The Trump Administration is continuing steps toward establishing a more formal policy framework around AI, with a particular focus on enhancing additional R&D to ensure continued U.S. competitiveness in global markets.  Following the White House AI summit in May, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has begun work to update the 2016 “National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan” (AI Strategic Plan).  In conjunction with that work on September 26, 2018, the newly chartered Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence (“AI Select Committee”) published a Request for Information (“ROI”) seeking input from the public on approaches to update the AI Strategic Plan.

The AI Select Committee was recently established during the White House’s AI summit to “ensure continued U.S. leadership in AI.” A critical component of that charge is to revisit the 2016 AI Strategic Plan in order to mobilize Federal efforts related to AI. The Committee requests comments regarding the addition, removal, or modification of “strategic aims” as well as their past or future implementation by the Federal government. Comments are due October 26, 2018.

Notably, this Administration’s focus has been almost exclusively on developing policies to enhance and enable continued growth and adoption of AI technology, while eschewing any desire to adopt prescriptive regulations that may limit or undermine innovation in this field. As White House OSTP Advisor Michael Kratsios explained recently: “We’re not looking for, or will be endorsing, broad, high level guidelines about AI rules.” Instead, Mr. Kratsios explained that the “key” is to create a “regulatory environment that ensures that the next great technologies happen here in the U.S.” We expect any changes to the 2016 AI Strategic Plan will be consistent with these principles.

Around the globe, other nations have adopted formal policies and strategies to enhance their global competitiveness on AI technology. Notably, China, France, Finland and the European Union (“EU”) have all adopted formal AI policies or strategies. In 2017, China’s State Council released the New Generation AI Development Plan with an overall aim to become an international leader in AI technology. In addition to substantial investment in AI research, France is considering the impact of AI on its culture and job market. French president, Emmanuel Marcon, announced his intention to invest €1.5 billion in AI research and development at the AI for Humanity conference last March. The proposal is said to be based on recommendations from French scholar, Cedric Villani, who developed a French strategy for approaching AI. Lastly, not only has the EU executive branch suggested that its member states increase investment in AI, the EU Commission has published a directive title “Artificial Intelligence for Europe,” which  provides a framework for establishing Europe as a leader in global AI competitiveness, and calls for the establishment of a legal and ethical framework to govern this technology.

The Administration’s latest ROI will be one component of an emerging U.S. policy supporting the growth and development of AI technology in the U.S. and abroad. That being said, there are public interest organizations, and others, arguing that the government must regulate AI to protect consumer interests and welfare. Those developing and using AI should  consider adopting and implementing best practices, ethical principles and related procedures to avoid the potential for increased scrutiny by policymakers, similar to what some large platform providers have encountered recently.