Here's What One Tech Titan Thinks a National AI Strategy Should Be

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A feasible national AI strategy will foster innovation, create new employment opportunities, and remove murky policy barriers, Intel said.

To advance artificial intelligence, the U.S. needs a comprehensive strategy that ensures everyday citizens see its value, technology company Intel said this week.

In a white paper released Tuesday, the company proposes four key pillars upon which a U.S. national strategy should focus. They include: fostering innovation by investing in research and development, creating new employment opportunities while also protecting people’s welfare, responsibly liberating data to accelerate AI development, and removing legal and policy barriers to enable AI implementation.

The Trump administration issued an Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence last month, signifying the country’s ambition to become a leader in shaping the global evolution of AI. While the executive order establishes the administration’s position in prioritizing AI technology, it received criticism for lacking in scope and its omission of clear funding.

“Intel’s U.S. National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence makes policy recommendations that build on the president’s executive order, which was an important step forward,” Intel’s Associate General Counsel and Global Privacy Officer David Hoffman told Nextgov in a statement. “It’s now urgent to begin moving toward concrete implementation.”

The report urges the government to dictate specific funding commitments and resources to enable the innovation of AI systems. It calls for a study that demonstrates where the U.S. will get the most bang for its buck through research and development investments, and also encourages the administration to allocate AI funding to specific government agencies including the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation.

Intel also encourages the U.S. to support international cooperation, promote AI awareness domestically, encourage the adoption of AI in the private sector, and develop governmentwide policies that ensure the most responsible use of its proposed investments.

“If the US is to be the AI innovation leader, U.S. citizens must understand the value and benefits of this technology,” the report said. “The more the technology is understood and embraced, the quicker it will be adopted, and the sooner the benefits will be realized.”

As a competent workforce is part of the foundation of an effective technological industry, Intel’s report also pushes the government to build an AI-focused workforce, while also mitigating potentially negative impacts such as employment displacement through supporting unemployment insurance and benefits.

The report calls for an update to the country’s education curriculum “to ensure that the next generation is equipped to enter the AI workforce,” and to boost the investment of AI programs in higher education at all levels.

“Federal programs and public-private partnerships should be established to support the introduction of AI technology and training programs,” Intel said.  

Because developing AI systems requires immense amounts of data, the report also calls on the government to promote open data systems, while also developing “technology-neutral” and comprehensive federal privacy legislation.

Finally, Intel encourages the administration to “evaluate the existing regulatory and policy landscape for barriers to AI adoption, and use caution before adopting new laws, regulations, taxes or controls that may inadvertently or unnecessarily impede the responsible development and use of AI.” Instead of regulating specific algorithms, the report says the government should focus on and enact policies across broader AI objectives.

Intel’s proposal comes at a time when America’s greatest competitors are taking their own steps to advance the adoption of AI. As the report suggests, China plans to build a domestic AI industry worth $150 billion by 2030 and received nearly $26 billion in AI investment and funding in 2017 alone.

Now is the “time to move forward or risk falling behind other nations who have already developed AI strategies and are investing heavily to capture AI’s enormous potential,” the report said.

Ultimately implementing a national strategy will require a monumental effort from the public and private sectors, but Hoffman suggests the government has been responsive to Intel’s recommendations.

“We have been engaged with the federal government on aspects of the AI proposal for some time, and have met with several policymakers who have been supportive of the strategy,” he said. “We are looking forward to discussing how to move forward with the administration and federal agencies, both of which have important roles to play in moving the national strategy forward.”

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