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Trump To Feds: Prioritize Artificial Intelligence Work

A sweeping executive order to be signed Monday will push agencies to boost funding, improve training, and propose regulations for AI-related efforts.

Federal agencies will be instructed to “prioritize AI investments” under an executive order to be signed by President Trump on Monday, a senior administration official told reporters Sunday. The order will launch the “American Artificial Intelligence Initiative,” which will push government agencies to spend more on AI research and development; direct the creation of related guidelines, standards, and potential regulations; and fund training in what the White House is describing as “AI-relevant” work areas.

The goal is to “prioritize federal AI spending cutting-edge ideas that can directly benefit the American people,” the official said.

The official said the initiative directs federal agencies to: Make more data, models, and computation available to AI researchers “while protecting privacy and civil liberties;” prioritize AI research and development as they allocate supercomputer time and cloud- computing resources; and prioritize training programs and fellowships that have an AI angle and that promote the development of “AI-relevant skills” such as data science and statistics.

It also directs the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy to lead other regulatory agencies in proposing needed regulations for private and government AI efforts. It taps the National Institute of Science and Technology to establish “appropriate technical standards for reliable, robust, trustworthy, secure, and droppable AI systems,” the official said.

Reporters on the call were quick to ask about the strategy’s relationship to China’s massive 18-month-old national plan to achieve AI dominance by 2030. And just weeks ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin tasked government experts with drafting a national AI strategy of their own.

The official said that the initiative is the result of much outreach to industry and tech players in Silicon Valley. But some of those leaders are bit closer to Donald Trump than are others. For instance, Trump has repeatedly lashed out on Twitter against Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Former Alphabet CEO Eric Schmidt, who serves as the chairman of the Defense Innovation Board and on the National Security Commission on AI, has publicly disagreed with Trump on issues related to immigration.

Meanwhile, venture capitalist and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who served on Trump’s transition team, has remained much closer to the president. Michael Kratsios, a former aide to Thiel, currently serves as the deputy chief U.S. technology officer and the deputy assistant to the President at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which is taking the lead on executing the order.