President Trump is Expected to Sign an Executive Order on AI. Here’s Why It Matters

The United States fell behind when 18 countries around the world launched programs to stimulate AI development. Now, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order launching the American Artificial Intelligence (AI) Initiative.

A senior administration official reportedly told CNN that the initiative outlines “bold, decisive actions to ensure that AI continues to be fueled by American ingenuity, reflects American values and is applied for the benefit of the American people.”

Goals of the AI initiative will be split into the following 5 areas, as reported by multiple different outlets:  Research and Development, Resources, Ethical Standards, Automation, and International Outreach.

America is still the world’s leader in AI research, but recent investments in the technology from China, France, and South Korea is what’s more than likely fueling this new order from the president.

“This executive order is about ensuring continued America leadership in AI, which includes ensuring AI technologies reflect American values, policies, and priorities,” an administration official told Axios. 

While major voices in the tech community have applauded the initiative for making AI a policy priority, it fails to reference some key concerns. AI technologies such as facial recognition have the potential to infringe upon privacy and civil liberties.

Certain aspects of AI have been under fire over the past few years. One of the most notable was when Amazon’s Rekognition technology falsely matched 28 members of Congress–most of them people of color–with public mugshots. Several civil rights groups have called on the tech industry to not sell its AI technology to the government and companies like Microsoft have called for federal regulation of facial recognition technology, claiming that AI is amplifying widespread surveillance.

Jason Furman –a now Harvard professor who served as chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Obama and helped draft that administration’s 2016 report on AI –told Technology Review“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.”

The administration has not provided many details on the plan such as which projects will be launched, or how much money will go into funding the different initiatives.

Additional information will be released over the next six months.