Under President Obama’s leadership, America continues to be the world’s most innovative country, with the greatest potential to develop the industries of the future and harness science and technology to help address important challenges. Over the past 8 years, President Obama has relentlessly focused on building U.S. capacity in science and technology. This Thursday, President Obama will host the White House Frontiers Conference in Pittsburgh to imagine the Nation and the world in 50 years and beyond, and to explore America’s potential to advance towards the frontiers that will make the world healthier, more prosperous, more equitable, and more secure.
Today, to ready the United States for a future in which Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a growing role, the White House is releasing a report on future directions and considerations for AI called Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence. This report surveys the current state of AI, its existing and potential applications, and the questions that progress in AI raise for society and public policy. The report also makes recommendations for specific further actions. A companion National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan is also being released, laying out a strategic plan for Federally-funded research and development in AI.
Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence details several policy opportunities raised by AI, including how the technology can be used to advance social good and improve government operations; how to adapt regulations that affect AI technologies, such as automated vehicles, in a way that encourages innovation while protecting the public; how to ensure that AI applications are fair, safe, and governable; and how to develop a skilled and diverse AI workforce.
The publication of this report follows a series of public-outreach activities spearheaded by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in 2016, which included five co-hosted public workshops held across the country, as well as a Request for Information (RFI) in June 2016 that received 161 responses. These activities helped inform the focus areas and recommendations included in the report.
Advances in AI technology hold incredible potential to help America stay on the cutting edge of innovation. Already, AI technologies have opened up new markets and new opportunities for progress in critical areas such as health, education, energy, and the environment. In recent years, machines have surpassed humans in the performance of certain specific tasks, such as some aspects of image recognition. Although it is very unlikely that machines will exhibit broadly-applicable intelligence comparable to or exceeding that of humans in the next 20 years, experts forecast that rapid progress in the field of specialized AI will continue, with machines reaching and exceeding human performance on an increasing number of tasks.
One of the most important issues raised by AI is its impact on jobs and the economy. The report recommends that the White House convene a study on automation and the economy, resulting in a follow-on public report that will be released by the end of this year.
In the coming years, AI will continue contributing to economic growth and will be a valuable tool for improving the world in fields as diverse as health care, transportation, the environment, criminal justice, and economic inclusion. The Administration believes that it is critical that industry, civil society, and government work together to develop the positive aspects of the technology, manage its risks and challenges, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to help in building an AI-enhanced society and to participate in its benefits.
To read the Future of AI report, click here. And tune-in for the White House Frontiers Conference on October 13 for more on the #FutureofAI, including discussions with leading experts on harnessing the potential of AI, including data science, machine learning, automation, and robotics to engage and benefit all Americans. Watch the conference live and learn more at: http://www.frontiersconference.org.
Ed Felten is a Deputy U.S Chief Technology Officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Terah Lyons is a Policy Advisor to the U.S. Chief Technology Officer in White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.