President Donald Trump has signed an executive order aimed at making America a global leader in artificial intelligence, the latest area of technology where China appears to have gained an advantage over the US. The order will strengthen America's global position in artificial intelligence (AI) competition by boosting investment in AI research and development, setting standards for systems development and deployment and creating a workforce that is capable of supporting AI technologies.
"Continued American leadership in Artificial Intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States," Trump said on Monday.
Titled "Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence", the executive order aims to promote sustained investment and innovation in AI, enhance access to resources for AI research and train a next-generation AI research workforce.
As part of the initiative, Trump directed Federal agencies to prioritise investments in research and development of AI.
The Initiative focuses federal government resources toward developing AI technology and ensuring that the next great AI inventions are made in the United States.
Highlights include unleashing innovation in AI by supporting long-term research and increasing access to federal data and computing resources for America's AI researchers; and promoting a responsible approach to AI by encouraging transformative applications of AI, while continually improving outcomes for workers and users alike.
It also seeks preparing America's workforce for the jobs of the future by directing federal agencies to help Americans gain AI-relevant skills and promoting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.
Directing regulatory agencies to establish guidance for AI development and use across technologies and industrial sectors, it calls upon the National Institute of Standards and Technology to lead the development of appropriate technical and safety standards for AI systems.
The impact of artificial intelligence will extend across the entire department, spanning from operations and training to recruiting and healthcare, said Dana Deasy, Chief Information Officer of the Department of Defense.
"The speed and agility with which we will deliver AI capabilities to the warfighter has the potential to change the character of warfare. We must accelerate the adoption of AI-enabled capabilities to strengthen our military, improve effectiveness and efficiency, and enhance the security of our nation," he said after Trump signed the executive order.
On Tuesday, Department of Defense released its Artificial Intelligence Strategy, which will articulate its approach for accelerating the delivery and adoption of AI-enabled capabilities.
National Science Foundation (NSF) Director France Cordova, who participated in the signing ceremony, said the advances in AI were crucial for the US science and engineering enterprise, and nearly all sectors of 21st century economy.
"Many of the transformative uses of AI that we are witnessing today are founded in federal government investments in fundamental AI research that reach back over decades," he said.
"Artificial Intelligence has great potential to benefit the American people, while enhancing our nation's security and growing our economy," said Senator Roger Wicker, chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.
"Today's executive order will ensure that the US remains a leader in emerging technologies and scientific development. I look forward to working with the President to guarantee AI is fuelled by American innovation, while protecting consumer data privacy and American values," he said.
The move was welcomed by the corporate world. "AI has the potential to impact virtually every corner of the US economy, from medical diagnostics to fraud detection and increased energy efficiency," said Joshua Bolten, president and CEO of Business Roundtable.
"Proactive investments in AI today will be the key to securing US leadership in technology tomorrow. Strengthening investments in the US workforce will ensure that our country is prepared for an economy that will be transformed by new technologies," he said.
"With AI growing at a rapid pace, we need to take action to ensure that our adversaries and near peers aren't able to target this emerging tech and use it in malicious ways," said House Homeland Security Ranking Member Mike Rogers.
"Today's announcement demonstrates that President Trump recognises that the United States cannot coast on our thriving innovation economy to maintain our leadership in AI but must actively engage so that it does not become a threat to our national and economic security interests," he said.