Intel Reveals Ideas on Promoting AI in U.S. as Chinese Growth Looms

Even as the executive order President Trump issued last month on artificial intelligence furthered the conversation about a developing national strategy for the sector, it was met with certain criticism. A common complaint was that the plan won’t implement itself.

“The administration’s American AI Initiative includes all of the right elements; the critical test will be to see if they follow through in a vigorous manner,” Jason Furman, who helped compile a report on AI for the Obama administration in 2016, told MIT Technology Review in February. “The plan is aspirational with no details and is not self-executing.”

Corporations like Intel are now following up with their own suggestions for making U.S. policy more concrete. On Tuesday, the Santa Clara, CA-based company released a white paper that included four recommendations for U.S. strategy on AI. Intel’s suggestions included investing in R&D and education; creating federal policy that encourages data sharing and “clear ethical frameworks” around AI; and regulating AI in a way that doesn’t infringe on companies’ proprietary work.

IBM has made similar suggestions. In October, the company offered ways to expand the plan that was developed during the Obama administration to meet modern AI needs.

A key driver behind it all, for Intel at least, is to remain ahead of the curve compared to other countries. Intel noted in its white paper the efforts that countries like China and South Korea are investing heavily in AI, from funding startups to increasing patent submissions. China developed a strategy in 2017 to build a domestic AI industry that is worth $150 billion by 2030, Intel wrote.

“As the potential societal and economic benefits and risks of AI are becoming clear, other nations are seeking to lead in AI by publishing comprehensive AI Strategies,” Intel wrote. Axios reported that Intel is concerned that Chinese chipmakers may catch up to U.S. companies’ technology in five years.

Intel notably dedicated more than a third of its white paper to education, arguing that the U.S. government should study how AI and automation will impact today’s workforce. The company says education curriculum should be updated to “ensure that the next generation is equipped to enter the AI workforce.” It also suggests that the government take actions to mitigate the impact of potential job losses, such as studying whether current methods of unemployment insurance are sufficient.

Neither the Trump administration’s executive order nor Intel’s white paper mentions immigration policy or visas, however. In an op-ed he wrote for Wired in response to the order, Oren Etzioni, the CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, called immigration critical for American scientific success. Two-thirds of the research scientists at the Allen Institute are immigrants, Etzioni wrote, and the U.S. has historically been able to attract top-tier talent from around the world. Etzioni suggested President Trump include a special visa program for AI students in his executive order.

Even if it was quiet on immigration, President Trump’s executive order did discuss funding. Although it didn’t dedicate any new money to AI work, it encouraged federal agencies to redirect funding toward AI. Intel suggests that the government start by funding a study to determine where to best invest in research and development, such as in cybersecurity, healthcare, climate change, or other areas.

The company’s white paper also suggests that the federal government encourage data-sharing and prohibit things like tariffs on data flow. It calls for a “legal and policy environment that supports AI,” in particular making decision that protects companies’ intellectual property like source code, algorithms, or encryption keys.

“It’s time to move forward or risk falling behind other nations who have already developed AI strategies and are investing heavily to capture AI’s enormous potential,” Intel wrote in its report.

David Holley is Xconomy's national correspondent based in Austin, TX. You can reach him at dholley@xconomy.com Follow @xconholley

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