The President has made artificial intelligence technology a policy priority. On February 11, 2019, the President issued an Executive Order to direct most federal executive agencies to promote and protect American advancements in artificial intelligence while working with private industry. The order recognized that public trust in artificial intelligence is an important factor in the development and use of the technologies, and highlights the need to “protect civil liberties, privacy, and American values in their application in order to fully realize the potential of AI technologies for the American people.”

Specifically, the President ordered the agencies to consider artificial intelligence as a research and development priority and

  • Invest in artificial intelligence (for example, machine learning) research and development.
  • Enhance access to data, models, algorithms, and computing resources to promote artificial intelligence research and development (consistent with obligations to maintain safety, security, privacy, and confidentiality).
  • Reduce barriers to the use of artificial intelligence (for example, machine learning) technologies.
  • Help develop technical standards that minimize vulnerability to attacks and “reflect Federal priorities for innovation, public trust, and public confidence in systems that use AI technologies.”
  • Train a workforce that can develop and take advantage of developments in artificial intelligence.
  • Develop an action plan to “to protect the advantage of the United States in AI and technology critical to United States economic and national security interests against strategic competitors and foreign adversaries.”

Within 180 days of the order, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget is required to issue a memorandum that provides advice to agencies to help them meet their obligations under the order. The order also directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to issue a plan for how the federal government can help develop technical standards applicable to artificial intelligence technologies.

Implications

Expect more to come from the federal government on this topic during 2019. The Executive Order identifies artificial intelligence as a key element of economic and national security, and the President seeks to preserve the United States’ leadership position in developing and using this technology.