Will A New Federal Initiative Make the US a Global AI Leader?

Recently, President Donald Trump signed an executive order called the “American AI Initiative” to help the country advance artificial intelligence research. What does this mean for the future of AI and America’s role in its development?

The Executive Order May Not Go Far Enough

The order was met with praise by the tech community – but also skepticism and criticism. Critics cite the fact that the order is vague and that there is no new federal funding being allocated to AI research or projects. Rather, the order simply asks government agencies to move already-allocated funds towards AI research and to open their data sets, models and other resources to researchers to spark innovation.

Critics worry that this lack of solid planning and funding will keep America in a place of playing catch up since countries like China are already well past this phase and have dedicated resources funneling straight into AI research.

To Emerge As a Leader, The US Must Be Aggressive In AI Funding

In fact, China has earmarked $150 billion in investments over the next ten years, while the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency announced a $2 billion investment over the next five years. It’s a great start, but many the leaders notice the disparity and want to see more funding allocated in order to pull ahead of China.

While tech leaders are thrilled that the order puts new focus on investing in AI research, they worry that it does not go far enough. They worry that access to data is incredibly splintered since states have been forming their own AI initiatives to plug the vacuum created by the lack of funding and privacy standards at the federal level. They want to see a comprehensive plan with dedicated funding and uniform governance to truly guide advancement.

For the US to become a leader in AI research and development, a national policy is a must-have in the eyes of many experts. The order has the right overarching elements but it lacks the specific ingredients to bare real teeth.

There is also the concern that while re-allocating funds can spawn innovation, those technologies could be stymied if the government steps in later with a host of new regulations and standards. Lack of regulatory certainty and funding is always an enemy of advancement.

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