Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
World News | By Joan Terry

White House to host summit on artificial intelligence

White House to host summit on artificial intelligence

The Pentagon and the USA departments of agriculture, commerce, energy, health, labor and transportation are due to take part in the daylong meeting that will look at artificial intelligence (AI) innovation and research and development and removing barriers to its application.

The administration has some vacancies in its science and technology staff who could be involved in the committee.

On a broad level, the budget funds AI research at the National Science Foundation and applied R&D in the Department of Transportation to develop autonomous systems.

The White House convened more than 100 business leaders - in sectors ranging from energy and manufacturing to health care, technology and financial services - along with senior government officials and experts for a summit to address issues including supporting national research and development, helping the American workforce to take advantage of AI and removing barriers to AI innovation in the US.

Technology leaders have pushed the administration to be more focused on both the economic potential of AI technologies and the disruption it could cause to existing jobs.

Intel Corp chief executive Brian Krzanich, who was at the White House summit, wrote in a blog post his concerns about the USA staggering behind in AI development.

While the Obama administration also warned against a rush to add regulations on AI, it had called for assurances that AI "systems will operate safely and securely, in a controlled, well-defined, and well-understood manner".

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The White House is hosting the "Artificial Intelligence for American Industry" event Thursday. Trump has yet to appoint an assistant to the president for science and technology policy, who traditionally oversees the OSTP and NSTC. Nevertheless, the USA with its unique strengths in AI in both industry and academia should be able to maintain its leadership role, especially with a close coordination between industry and government initiatives.

He said it's also important to make it easier for startups to participate so that the technology - and the reams of online data it learns from - isn't tightly controlled by a small group of large companies.

A year ago, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin brushed aside concerns about AI displacing jobs, saying that prospect was so far in the future that "it's not even on my radar screen".

Dean Garfield, the CEO of the trade association Information Technology Industry Council, commended the new AI task force in a statement.

"Privacy, cybersecurity, ethics, and potential employment impact are all worthy of careful analysis", Krzanich said.

Garfield and other attendees said they were optimistic about the administration's approach, including efforts to smooth regulations that could foster the adoption of self-driving vehicles and drones.

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