Trump signs order to boost AI

President Trump on Monday signed an executive order laying out a national plan to boost artificial intelligence (AI) technology, amid growing concern that the U.S. is losing out to China.

The executive order directs federal agencies to prioritize and set aside funding for AI programs, while opening up the way for AI researchers and developers to access more government data.

“Continued American leadership in Artificial Intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States,” Trump said in a statement.

The order is light on details but ambitious in its mission.

What it does: The order directs all federal agencies to look into launching and expanding AI initiatives that promote their missions; tasks a coalition of government bodies to develop a set of national “regulatory” standards around AI; and directs the National Council for the American Worker and AI select committee to set up “fellowship and training programs” to help U.S. workers learn the skills needed to work with and develop AI technologies.

What it doesn’t do: The order does not lay out a specific timeline or tangible goals on AI, experts told The Hill. It also does not direct Congress to appropriate any new funds for AI programs, instead asking federal agencies to take the lead in setting aside more money and resources. Administration officials said a more detailed plan would come over the next six months.
The context: The order comes two years after China announced a detailed plan to become a global leader in artificial intelligence.

“I think that the U.S. is still the dominant force [on AI] and I think that China is rapidly catching up,” Oren Etzioni, the CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, told The Hill.

Etzioni said he worries the executive order is “too little, too late,” but added it will be hard to tell until the mandates are implemented.