White House announces creation of Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence

The White House. (angela n. / Flickr)

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Watch out China — the Trump administration has its own plans to dominate development of artificial intelligence.

As the latest indication of this, the White House announced the creation of a Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence during an organized AI summit of industry and academic partners Thursday.

“As artificial intelligence transforms everything from agriculture to manufacturing to transportation, the potential for AI remains breathtaking,” Michael Kratsios, deputy CTO at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in his remarks at the event. “But we cannot be passive. To realize the full potential of AI for the American people, it will require the combined efforts of industry, academia, and government.”

The new committee, likewise, holds a mission “to improve the coordination of Federal efforts related to AI to ensure continued U.S. leadership in this field.” It will operate within the technology committee at the National Science and Technology Council, and will be made up of “the most senior R&D officials” from across the federal government.

According to the charter of the committee, these include the undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology from the Department of Commerce, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering at the Department of Defense, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the undersecretary of energy for science within the Department of Energy, the director of the National Science Foundation, and the director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency. The committee will be chaired by OSTP and will also include representatives from the Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Council.

The select committee will work toward its mission of enabling U.S. leadership in the development of AI in a number of ways, including by helping to define interagency AI research and development goals, coordinate agency R&D plans and encourage further agency initiatives (including in partnership with industry and academia).

During his wide-ranging speech Thursday, Kratsios spoke about the administration’s commitment to investing in AI as a key component of Trump’s R&D budget request for 2019. He mentioned how the President’s Management Agenda calls for the increased use of automation software within the federal government. And he addressed the evergreen concern that accompanies conversations about AI — job loss.

“To a certain degree job displacement is inevitable,” Kratsios said. “But we can’t sit idle, hoping eventually the market will sort it out. We must do what Americans have always done: adapt.”

The Trump administration’s commitment to science and technology education, he said, is part of its plan to adapt. OSTP, Kratsios added, will release a five-year strategic plan on STEM education efforts later this year. The creation of that plan is being led by the office’s assistant
director for STEM education, Dr. Jeff Weld.

“Our continued leadership in the field that American researchers pioneered is not just a request; it is an imperative,” Kratsios said. “It is an imperative because of the potential benefits to American industry, to the American worker, and to the American people.”

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Donald Trump, Michael Kratsios, Office of Science and Technology Poilcy, The White House