Trump Signs Nebulous AI Executive Order With $0 Funding Attached

Donna Miller
February 12, 2019

President Donald Trump waves after arriving on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Friday, Feb. 8, 2019.

This technology-promoting initiative calls for protecting the advantage of the United States in AI "against strategic competitors and foreign adversaries", but without specifying its competitors or adversaries.

US President Donald Trump is preparing to sign an executive order that would have federal agencies dedicate more resources and investment into artificial intelligence (AI) research, training and promotion.

The plan, called the American AI Initiative, is meant to enhance national and economic security and improve Americans' quality of life.

"AI is something that touches every aspect of people's lives", a senior administration official told reporters ahead of the signing.

As The New York Times reported on Monday, "the order does not set aside funds for A.I. research and development, and the administration provided few details on how it will put its new policies into effect".

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Research and development: Federal funding agencies will be asked to "prioritize AI investments" in their allocations.

Without naming China explicitly, Trump's order does state that the USA "must promote an global environment that supports American AI research and innovation and opens markets for American AI industries, while protecting our technological advantage in AI and protecting our critical AI technologies from acquisition by strategic competitors and adversarial nations". Eighteen other countries have beaten America to the punch in that regard.

The effort comes as China continues making inroads in AI development.

Last May, then-Defense Secretary James Mattis wrote a note to Trump imploring him to draw up just such a national strategy for retaining USA leadership in AI, noting his fear of China's ambitious plans, the New York Times reported in August.

Create resources: It will seek to make federal data, computer models, and computing resources available to AI researchers.

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