What a National AI Strategy Could Look Like

Published: January 09, 2019

Policy and Legislation

The Center for Data Innovation provides pointers for a National AI Strategy.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been dubbed critical in the future development of several industries, from healthcare to infrastructure and of course, in national security. Despite its importance and anticipated explosion to fame, the U.S. remains lacking a national strategy in the standard implementation and regulation of AI. Congressional leaders in IT, Reps. Hurd and Kelly, have been vocal in the need for a national strategy. Through three hearings held in 2018 to educate Congress on how to approach AI, the leaders published a report in September 2018 to help guide legislation surrounding AI, declaring its criticality in the U.S. economy and global competitiveness.

The Center for Data Innovation could not seem to agree more. In its release of its Why the United States Needs a National Artificial Intelligence Strategy and What It Should Look Like report, the center cites three primary reasons for a national AI strategy, “1) to boost U.S. economic competitiveness; 2) to support U.S. defense capabilities; and 3) to overcome market failures, including the provisioning of public goods, that would otherwise slow AI development and adoption.”

The report proceeds to make 40 recommendations on what a national strategy might look like, grouped under seven main umbrellas:

  • Ensuring Data Availability – promote and institute regulation around open data projects by the public sector and encouraging the private sector in sharing data to accelerate AI efforts for public benefit
  • Developing AI Talent – set the stage to nurture an expanded AI workforce through additional investment in AI R&D, breaking barriers in education and increases in tax credits
  • Transforming Government with AI – ensure funds for AI pilot initiatives, establish best practices and shared resources among agencies and prioritize the use of AI, specifically in national security settings
  • Spurring AI Development and Adoption in Industry - direct federal agencies to help create strategies with industry in AI adoption in relevant industries
  • Ensuring Trade Policy Supports AI – advocate for cross-border data flow while also instilling protections that may place the U.S. at a disadvantage
  • Ensuring Any Regulation of AI Is Innovation Friendly – establish flexibility versus blanket and stringent mandates for algorithms and algorithmic accountability to allow for the flourishment of AI
  • Providing Workers with Better Tools to Manage AI-driven Workforce Transitions - reform national workforce training and policies to accommodate emerging technical changes.

When or how a national strategy for AI remains to be seen. According to the report, the “ultimate goal of a national AI strategy should be to make the United States a global leader in the development and use of AI. “ Despite the lack of strategy, the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) is at least working to update the 2016 National AI Research and Development (R&D) Strategic Plan. The Request for Information, issued in September 2018 with comments due the following month, sought advice on additions and modifications to the existing strategy. The updated AI R&D Strategy is anticipated for completion this spring. Other areas of AI regulations and guidance are also being sought after. Most recently, DOD requested a set of ethical principles in the use of AI in warfare from the Defense Innovation Board.