The American AI Initiative: The U.S. strategy for leadership in artificial intelligence

The American AI Initiative is in support of AI innovation that enhances security and improves quality of life.

On February 11, 2019, President Donald J. Trump launched the American Artificial Intelligence Initiative, the United States’ national strategy for maintaining American leadership in AI, by signing Executive Order 13859.  This blog post details how that initiative recognizes the importance of American leadership in AI to maintain the economic and national security of the United States and to shape the global evolution of AI in a manner consistent with our Nation’s values, policies, and priorities.

United States policies and practices to promote trustworthy AI innovation

The American AI Initiative focuses the resources of the Federal Government in support of AI innovation that will increase prosperity, enhance national security, and improve quality of life. In the past year since the signing of the Executive Order, the United States has made significant progress on achieving the national strategy‘s objectives. This national strategy is well-aligned with the OECD AI Principles and takes important action to support the development of trustworthy AI. The Initiative emphasizes the following key policies and practices:

  1. Invest in AI research and development: The United States must promotes Federal investment in AI R&D in collaboration with industry, academia, international partners and allies, and other non-Federal entities to generate technological breakthroughs in AI. President Trump called for a two-year doubling of non-defense AI R&D in his fiscal year 2021 budget proposal, and in 2019 the Administration updated its AI R&D strategic plan, developed the first progress report describing the impact of Federal R&D investments, and published the first-ever reporting of  government-wide non-defense AI R&D spending.  

  2. Unleash AI resources: The United States must enhances access to high-quality Federal data, models, and computing resources to increase their value for AI R&D, while maintaining and extending safety, security, privacy, and confidentiality protections. The American AI Initiative directs Federal agencies to identify new opportunities to increase access to and use of Federal data and models. In 2019, the White House Office of Management and Budget established the Federal Data Strategy as a framework for operational principles and best practices for Federal agencies and how they use and manage data.
  1. Remove barriers to AI innovation: The United States reduces barriers to the safe development, testing, deployment, and adoption of AI technologies by providing guidance for the governance of AI consistent with our Nation’s values and by driving the development of appropriate AI technical standards. As part of the American AI Initiative, The White House proposed the United States AI Regulatory Principles, a first-of-its-kind national AI regulatory policy that advances innovation underpinned by American values. In addition, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) issued the first-ever strategy for Federal engagement in the development of AI technical standards. 
  1. Promote an international environment supportive of American AI innovation: The UnitedStates engages internationally to promote a global environment that supports American AI research and innovation and opens markets for American AI industries while ensuring that AI is developed in a matter consistent with our Nation’s values, including protecting privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. Last year, the United States joined with allies in historic efforts at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to develop the first intergovernmental consensus agreement on fundamental principles for the stewardship of trustworthy AI. The United States supports OECD’s ongoing work to implement these principles through the AI Policy Observatory and related activities.

  2. Embrace trustworthy AI for government services and missions: The United States embraces technology such as artificial intelligence to improve the provision and efficiency of government services to the American people and ensure its application upholds our Nation’s values, including protecting privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. The General Services Administration established an AI Center of Excellence to enable Federal agencies to determine best practices for incorporating AI into their organizations. 

  3. Train an AI-ready workforce: The United States empowers current and future generations of American workers through apprenticeships; skills programs; and education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), with an emphasis on computer science, to ensure that American workers are capable of taking full advantage of the opportunities of AI. President Trump directed all Federal agencies to prioritize AI-related apprenticeship and job training programs and opportunities. In addition to its R&D focus, the National Science Foundation’s new National AI Research Institutes program will also contribute to workforce development, particularly of AI researchers.

America’s strong innovation ecosystem, fuelled by strategic Federal investments, visionary scientists and entrepreneurs, and renowned research institutions, has propelled the United States to global leadership in AI. However, continued leadership is not predetermined. Maintaining America’s preeminent role in AI can only be realized by continually building upon our progress and pursuing a strategic, forward-looking approach in partnership with industry, academia, non-profit organizations, other non-Federal entities, and like-minded international allies. Together, we will shape the trajectory of AI development for good — enriching our lives, promoting innovation, fostering trust and understanding, and ensuring our national defense and security.

Photo by Stephen on Unsplash

New AI regulatory principles to reduce barriers to innovation and protect civil liberties

Aas directed by the American AI Initiative, in January 2020, The White House proposed first-of-their-kind AI regulatory principles on regulatory and nonregulatory policies to govern the development and use of AI technologies in the private sector. When finalized, this guidance will ensure that U.S. government agencies consider ways to reduce barriers to the development and adoption of AI before proposing any regulation of technologies and industrial sectors that are empowered or enabled by AI. The guidance also calls on regulatory agencies to review their authorities relevant to the application of AI and to develop plans to achieve consistency with the guidance.

The proposed United States AI regulatory principles are underpinned by three goals designed to drive AI innovation, while upholding privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties:

  • Ensure Public Engagement: The AI regulatory principles call for Federal agencies to increase public participation in the policymaking process, building public trust and confidence in AI technologies. Regulators must base technical and policy decisions on scientific evidence and feedback from the American public, industry leaders, the academic community, non-profits, and civil society.
  • Limit Regulatory Overreach: Regulators must carefully assess risk and the costs and benefits before considering regulations related to the development and deployment of AI applications, with a focus on establishing flexible, performance-based frameworks rather than one-size-fits-all regulation. The principles also direct Federal agencies to reduce duplicative efforts and ensure consistency government-wide.
  • Promote Trustworthy AI: When evaluating regulatory and nonregulatory approaches to AI, Federal agencies must consider fairness, non-discrimination, disclosure, transparency, safety, and security. In recognizing American values and the importance of scientific integrity and information quality, the principles address challenging technical questions and societal concerns to support the development of innovative, reliable, robust, and trustworthy AI systems.

These principles detail the United States’ approach to AI regulation for innovators and entrepreneurs. They seek to reduce regulatory uncertainty that could hinder private sector innovation and development of AI technologies. The principles also convey the importance of avoiding heavy-handed innovation-killing models. The best way to counter authoritarian uses of AI is to make sure America and our international partners remain the global hubs of innovation, shaping the evolution of technology in a manner consistent with our common values. These AI regulatory principles put our Nation on a path towards continued AI leadership, innovation, and discovery.

Listen to Lynne Parker discuss the United States’ AI priorities on The AI In Business podcast:

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official views of the OECD or its member countries. The Organisation cannot be held responsible for possible violations of copyright resulting from the posting of any written material on this website/blog.