President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday intended to boost America's global position in artificial intelligence.
While nothing in the statement mentions China, it's clear the order was intended to send a message.
Under the American AI Initiative, the administration is directing agencies to prioritize AI investments in research and development, increase access to federal data and models for that research and prepare workers to adapt to the era of AI.
There was no specific funding announced for the initiative, but the White House wants better reporting and tracking of spending on AI-related research and development.
The White House said investment in AI is "critical to creating the industries of the future, like autonomous cars, industrial robots, algorithms for disease diagnosis, and more."
And from the New York Times' coverage:
The United States is engaged in an increasingly bitter trade war with China. And while American companies like Google and Amazon are now leaders in A.I., experts in the field are concerned that China could surpass the United States in the development of technologies that will power surveillance systems and autonomous weapons as well as driverless cars and a wide range of internet services.
In July 2017, Chinese unveiled a plan to become the world leader in A.I., aiming to create an industry worth $150 billion to its economy by 2030, and two Chinese cities promised to invest $7 billion in the effort. Other governments, too, began making large investments, including South Korea, Britain, France and Canada.
In the United States, the Defense Department has accelerated efforts to embrace A.I., shifting $75 million of its annual budget to a new office that will develop these technologies. Other government agencies also have major projects in the works. But many A.I. experts have worried that the top talent in the United States is moving to companies like Google and Amazon and away from government agencies.
White House science adviser Michael Kratsios wrote in WIRED today that "with proper leadership, AI can empower American workers by liberating them from mundane tasks."
More at Wired News also, on the details of today's announcement.
Trump's new order appears to be the beginnings of an American response — but it's light on details and carries no resources to back it up. https://t.co/FDLGGfGEOj
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) February 11, 2019
A good first step but MUCH more needs to be done. We need a comprehensive National AI Strategy that addresses work, national security, competitiveness, privacy and programming bias. It should be done by gov't+private sector+non profit sector. https://t.co/3flSnPPMV7
— John K. Delaney (@JohnKDelaney) February 11, 2019