As AI becomes everyday reality, concerted national effort is needed
- From autonomous vehicle operation to stroke patient treatment, artificial intelligence is moving past the stage of what is possible to what is reality, according to speakers at the NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference in D.C. on Tuesday. And the technology is more accessible than ever: Users don't have to be AI experts to harness the technology's solutions anymore, according to Jana Eggers, CEO of Nara Logics, speaking on a panel at the event.
- While AI is meeting more advanced intelligence needs, every business has to start with the basics. A lot of clients are still just learning about this thing called "data science," quipped Josh Elliot, director of AI at Booz Allen Hamilton, speaking with CIO Dive at the event. Getting data structured and ready for use, setting up the infrastructure and having the trained workers who can leverage it all is an ongoing process for many businesses.
- With any disruptive technology or phenomenon, the government is looked to for resource assistance and direction. Government agencies are already tackling AI projects and working on multibillion dollar initiatives, but the government could use its bully pulpit to help galvanize further action around the technology, according to Keoki Jackson, CTO of Lockheed Martin, speaking on a panel at the event. If the government wants to be the body that provides testing and certification for AI systems, a concerted effort to figure out how to handle key questions around issues such as accountability needs to happen.
Private sector innovation has long been a cornerstone of American industry and a leader in international markets, but as the artificial intelligence race heats up, what role will the government play?
A moonshot mentality could help the U.S. sustain its competitive advantages by coordinating action between sectors. In the past, Congress or administrations have taken action to support a technology, such as the National Robotics Initiative, according to Missye Brickell, professional staff member on the Senate Commerce committee, speaking on a panel at the conference. A law that prioritizes AI R&D could similarly help galvanize action in the administration, especially as it relates to civilian research.
Earlier this year, a concerted effort by industry and academia for a quantum computing initiative and resources through federal government resulted in the passage of the National Quantum Initiative Act in the House of Representatives. The Senate bill is still waiting for a vote.
AI could benefit from similar treatment. AI specialists and academia should band together and rally around a specific, focused effort similar to what the quantum computing industry did, according to Brickell. Right now, the committee hears from tech companies and scientists on an ad hoc basis, but there isn't centralized effort.
Quantum computing has benefited from being one of the most disruptive technologies on the horizon. AI is more developed and already seeing widespread adoption throughout the enterprise and government, which may account for the less cohesive group advocating for it, according to Jim Kurose, assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the NSF, speaking on a panel.
Lawmakers are turning a keener eye to the disruptive technology, especially in terms of the effects it will have on jobs in their constituent bases. While there are many public-private partnerships, the U.S. still hasn't nailed down how to coordinate direction and resources between sectors as well as Europeans, Koreans or Chinese, according to Howie Choset, robotics professor at Carnegie Mellon University, speaking at the event.
AI experts have beseeched the government to enact open data policies and expand resources for education and research in the field. Experts have also warned against a heavy-handed regulatory approach that might stymie innovation due to fears of the unknown and knee-jerk reactions following incidents or mistakes.
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