The Trump administration is taking a vested interest in artificial intelligence. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order for the American AI initiative, which is designed to ensure federal government agencies prioritize investments in the research and development of America’s AI capabilities.

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

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The initiative doesn’t specify exactly what these investments will look like, but it will focus on increasing the nation’s prosperity, national and economic security and improving the quality of life of American people, Trump stressed.

“By driving technological breakthroughs in AI, breaking barriers to AI innovation, preparing our workforce for the jobs of the future, and protecting America’s advantage in AI we are ensuring that AI technologies continue to improve the lives of our people, create jobs, reflect our Nation’s values, and keep Americans safe at home and abroad,” the administration wrote in a blog.

The President did provide a multipronged approach in five key areas, which are:

    1. Investing in AI research and development: According to the administration, investments will be made in industry, academia and government.
    2. Unleashing AI resources: The initiative will look to make federal data models and computing resources more accessible. The President’s Management Agenda will work towards these efforts and implement the Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary Government Data Act.
    3. Setting AI governance standards: In order to foster public trust, the initiative will establish guidance for AI development and ensure the creation and adoption of new AI technologies. The National Institute of Standards and Technology will handle the development of technical standards.
    4. Building the AI workforce: Another area of focus will be to prioritize fellowship and training programs such as apprenticeships, skills programs, and education in computer science and other STEM fields.
    5. International engagement and protecting our AI advantage: The initiative will provide an action plan to protect the United States’ advantage and ensure technology is used for the nation’s best security interests.

Reactions from the tech industry:
Pranay Agrawal, CEO and cofounder of Fractal Analytics: “The seriousness of the initiative is clear, as with other executive orders in the last few months. There is a definite need for a strong partnership among government, enterprise and research. Currently signaling an intent, the deep-dive, follow-up debates & policy making will emerge from this partnership and touch all realms of society. AI ventures will accelerate due to this.”

Vadim Tabakman, manager of technical evangelism at Nintex: As AI penetrates the business, there has always been concern about its impact on the everyday business user and if it could it replace them. AI, just like business process automation, doesn’t replace a human, but instead releases them to be more valuable to the business, specifically for the things AI can’t do.  Examples of this could include unstructured data problem solving, identifying data that will impact another business unit, bringing a creative or artistic view to the data, and more. These are things that can’t be achieved with algorithms. Processing and sorting the data alone is possible with AI, but the human element is critical for the business to be successful.

Jamie Nafziger, partner at the international law firm Dorsey & Whitney and chair of its cybersecurity, privacy and social media practice group: It is excellent that the Trump Administration is raising the profile of this issue.  However, access to data is becoming increasingly splintered in the U.S. as states begin to legislate in the vacuum created because we have no comprehensive federal privacy law.  What the AI field may need most is funding and greater access to data.  If the Trump Administration can make those things happen, it will give a significant boost to American business and American innovation.

Eli Finkelshteyn, CEO and founder of The American AI Initiative is a step in the right direction; but, as we progress further into a world where the opportunities of AI to improve people’s lives become apparent, it is important to recognize its immense ability to do harm.  AI is an area where we, as a society, need to decide what we are and are not okay with and both fund and legislate around the vision we want. I believe privacy is an American value and is a key area where the government should create legislation to ensure AI advances but not at the expense of people’s privacy. As a tech founder, I believe in improving user experiences using AI without collecting users’ personally identifiable information.