Amazon, Facebook and Other Tech Giants Will Talk AI With White House

Evan Vucci/AP

Executives from nearly 40 companies will discuss ramifications and regulations of artificial intelligence with White House officials.

The White House will host executives from Amazon, Google, Facebook and a three dozen other major companies on Thursday for a broad-ranging discussion on artificial intelligence.

The meeting comes as the White House seeks to amplify the potential benefits of AI and machine learning in fields like agriculture, energy and transportation against the potential economic or existential risks the technology poses at it evolves.

Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios in February said the Trump administration is “deeply committed to” investing heavily in AI to keep pace with China and other countries. In fiscal 2018, the Trump administration increased spending in both information technology and federal research and development and spent some $2 billion in unclassified programs last year to develop AI technology, according to the Washington Post, which first reported news of the AI summit.

The tech industry is excited to weigh in, Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, told Nextgov. ITIC represents approximately 80 tech companies, including Facebook, Amazon, IBM, Intel, Oracle and Microsoft, all of which are expected to send executives to attend Thursday.

“This week’s artificial intelligence event hosted by the White House is an important step to building collaboration between government and industry,” Garfield said. “The tech sector is committed to ensuring that all Americans reap the benefits of this transformative technology, which has the potential to save lives, improve how we harvest food, transform education and more. In order to maintain America’s leadership on AI, the administration should continue to invest in research and development, and advance programs that equip the workforce with skills of the future.”

Executives from tech giants have visited the White House before. Last year, President Trump hosted the heads of Microsoft, Amazon and Apple and others for ideas to help modernize the government. This time around, confirmed invitees include Jerome Pesenti, Facebook’s vice president of AI; Rohit Prasad, head scientist for Amazon’s Alexa, and Brian Krzanich, chief executive for Intel, the Washington Post reported.  

The Trump administration’s efforts continue an early effort by the Obama administration to understand how AI could soon disrupt Americans' way of life. A report on AI commissioned by the Obama administration in 2016 said the technology “will not be costless,” and could dramatically impact the economy, forcing employees in lower-skilled jobs to learn more skills.

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