Army of robots

Trump Puts Artificial Intelligence on Centre Stage

Depending on who you listen to — or what movies you watch — artificial intelligence will either be our saviour…or lead to our doom.

The truth is no one really knows what benefits and perils truly smart machines will unleash on the world. What we do know is that nations who manage to engineer the smartest machines the soonest will have a huge edge on their competitors.

That reality is not lost on US President Donald Trump.

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Research and development of AI a priority

Trump intends to sign an executive order instructing federal agencies to make R&D of artificial intelligence a priority.

The plan is titled the ‘American AI Initiative and has two primary goals — enhance national and economic security and improve the quality of American lives’.

The initiative seeks to open up data and computing resources to AI experts while maintaining security and confidentiality.

The language used in the executive order also includes emphasis on ensuring the safety and trustworthiness of the technologies.

One of the outcomes sought by the directive, is for greater numbers of fellowships, apprenticeships and training programmes, as well as improving the quality of computer science education.

According to AP, the administration said on Monday that AI investment is, ‘critical to creating the industries of the future like autonomous cars, industrial robots, algorithms for disease diagnosis and more.

While the US already has an edge over other countries in the field of AI development as well as associated fields such as advanced manufacturing and quantum computing.

Trump eager to invest in tech

In his State of the Union speech last week, Trump said he was eager to work with lawmakers on infrastructure investment, including the investment in the latest technologies.

White House Science adviser, Michael Kratsios, wrote an article in Wired magazine on Monday arguing that, ‘with proper leadership, AI can empower American workers by liberating them from mundane tasks.

Last year, a study from PwC outlined how 30% of jobs could be automated by the mid-2030s, as well as 44% of workers with low education. There are benefits to be had however, as the study found that automation could boost global GDP by $15 trillion by 2030.

In light of these factors, and despite the risks the technology poses, the AI Initiative could be a bold first step towards advancing the US economy.

Crucially however, the plan does not include funding specifics and Congress will need to determine the scope of the project, if it goes ahead at all.

Let’s see if the Democrats will get on board with the idea.

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Lachlann Tierney
Lachlann Tierney is a writer for The Australian Tribune. He has a background in politics, public policy and has studied at London School of Economics. Lachlann is interested in small government, tertiary education matters and energy policy.
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