President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order directing federal agencies to prioritize research and development in the field of artificial intelligence. While the order states that it hopes to "promote scientific discovery, economic competitiveness, and national security", it provides little in the way of financial support for that endeavor. The White House in December hosted a listening session with the CEOs of Google, Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and Qualcomm to field ideas for securing American dominance in AI and other fields such as quantum computing and faster wireless technology known as 5G.
Trump signed the directive Monday.
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When asked about the benefit of AI to the American public, the official emphasized how "artificial intelligence is something that touches every aspect of people's lives", pointing to medical care, food production and energy resource extraction as examples.
The order, which comes amid concerns about China's ambitions to dominate the sector and the likelihood of disruption for workers as the technology automates millions of jobs, doesn't outline specific funding goals, but says it aims to ensure that AI develops in a manner that reflects US values and to push training for the future workforce. However, America is hardly the first to have a national AI initiative.
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Without naming China explicitly, Trump's order does state that the USA "must promote an global environment that supports American AI research and innovation and opens markets for American AI industries, while protecting our technological advantage in AI and protecting our critical AI technologies from acquisition by strategic competitors and adversarial nations". The socialist country set aside $150 billion for industrial investment, prompting a number of other countries with strong tech sectors, including South Korea, the UK, France and Canada, to launch their own AI investment initiatives.
The order doesn't cover intellectual property protections or export controls, which the administration has sought to use to constrain China in other areas, but aims to open markets for US companies.
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Though there's no specific budget behind the "American Artificial Intelligence Initiative", the president wants government agencies to invest in research, promotion, and training to help workers prepare for the era of AI.