Report: U.S. needs an AI strategy now

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A national strategy for artificial intelligence will boost the nation's competitiveness, support defense capabilities and spur AI adoption, according to a recent report from the Center for Data Innovation.

To ensure that America retains its competitive edge in artificial intelligence technology, the U.S. government needs a comprehensive strategy to spur the development and adoption of AI, according to a recent report from the Center for Data Innovation.  

A national AI strategy is necessary, the report stated, to boost competitiveness, support defense capabilities and "overcome market failures," that could slow adoption, such as the lack of skilled workers, insufficient research and development funding, inadequate data sharing and inertia caused by risk aversion and underinvestment.

The report advocates a number of policies for the administration and Congress that would enable greater data collection and sharing, cultivate AI talent and substantially increase R&D funding for AI.

When it comes to public sector adoption of AI, the report said, government faces unique challenges, including limited funding for capital expenditures, acquisition complexity, oversight questions and outdated IT infrastructures.

Lynne Parker, the assistant director of artificial intelligence in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, agreed that implementing the technology within government can be a struggle because of agencies' legacy infrastructure. It can require an entire reconstruction of a business process, she said.

"The way AI works, it might change a process in some way -- but not the entire process, but a piece of the process. So if you're able to address a piece of the process, that means the rest of your business work model or business flow has to be changed, but it might not align as well with your current structure or your current personnel," she told the audience at a Dec. 4 event hosted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

The Trump administration plans to update a 2016 AI research and development strategy first published under the Obama administration, according to Parker, who added that the plan should be ready by early spring.

Other countries have developed national AI strategies -- most notably China, which wants to be the world leader in AI technology by 2030 and plans to invest more than $147 billion to make that happen. Canada, France, India, Japan and Taiwan also have formal national strategies, while countries like South Korea and the United Kingdom have begun to make investments in the technology and workforce, according to the report.

A version of this article first appeared on FCW, a sibling site to GCN.

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