On February 11, 2019, President Trump signed an Executive Order (E.O. 13859) launching the American Artificial Intelligence (AI) Initiative to increase U.S. prosperity, enhance national and economic security, accelerate national leadership in AI and improve the quality of life for the American people. On February 26, 2020, the White House published a Year One Annual Report reviewing the strategic objectives of the Initiative, as well as achieved progress on the strategy’s implementation over the first year. The report argues that the United States is a leader in AI due to its “strong innovation ecosystem” driven by public and private sector stakeholders and fueled by strategic federal investments. It specifically makes reference to the importance of the unique synergistic effects of industry, civil society and non-governmental stakeholders in maintaining continued leadership in the AI sector.

The report lists six leading policies and practices for advancing leadership in AI:

  • Invest in AI research and development (R&D): The report highlights President Trump’s doubling of non-defense AI R&D in his proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 budget. Additionally, in 2019, the Administration reevaluated its strategic plan, which supported the development of trustworthy AI, private sector partnerships and affirmed that new research and technical innovations are still necessary.
  • Unleash AI resources: The report argues that the United States must enhance access to high-quality data to increase value for AI R&D while balancing safety, security and privacy concerns. Furthermore, the report discusses the White House Office of Management and Budget’s establishment of the Federal Data Strategy as a framework for operational principles and best practices to inform how federal agencies use and manage data.
  • Remove barriers to AI innovation: The Administration supports the reduction of barriers for the safe development, testing and adoption of AI technology. The report discusses several initiatives, such as the proposed United States AI Regulatory Principles, to “advance innovation underpinned by American values and good regulatory practices.” The report also commends the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s plan for federal engagement in developing technical standards and tools, which recommends that the Federal government commit to deeper, consistent and long-term engagement in activities to help the United States speed the pace of reliable, robust and trustworthy AI technology.
  • Train an AI-ready workforce: The report emphasizes the importance of a highly skilled and educated workforce ready to make use of AI technologies and opportunities. The President directs all federal agencies to prioritize and undertake AI-related job training and apprenticeship programs.
  • Promote an international environment supportive of American AI innovation: The Administration supports efforts to develop international principles for AI usage to ensure that American AI research and innovation sets standards, opens markets for American industries and boosts the United States’ technological advantage. Furthermore, the report references an initiative at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2019, which developed a strong global consensus on fundamental principles for the development of trustworthy AI. It also discusses the United States’ work with partners on similar initiatives at the G7 and G20.
  • Embrace trustworthy AI for government services and missions: The report contends that the use of AI for government services is necessary to improve the provision and efficiency of those services. It notes the Government Service Agency’s establishment of an AI Center of Excellence to enable Federal agencies to develop standards and best practices for integrating AI into their organizations.

As noted above, the Year One Report reinforces the Administration’s commitment to American leadership in AI to preserve the economic and natural security of the United States in a manner that promotes public trust, protects civil liberties and respects the privacy and dignity of every individual.

Following recommendations provided by the Defense Innovation Board last October, the United States Department of Defense (DOD) adopted a set of ethical principles to guide the use of AI for combat and non-combat functions of the United States military. The recommendations were informed by the nation’s leading experts in the commercial industry, government and academia with multiple streams for public input and comment. The series of principles overlap with the DOD AI strategy to accelerate the creation of modernized military forces, bolster the prosperity of the nation and improve national security.

DOD’s AI ethical principles include five major areas:

  1. Responsible. DOD personnel is advised to exercise appropriate levels of judgment and care and remain charged with the responsibility for the development, deployment and use of AI capabilities.
  2. Equitable. The Department is required to employ the appropriate strategies to ensure bias does not undermine the intended function of AI or machine learning tools.
  3. Traceable. AI capabilities will be developed and deployed by relevant personnel with an appropriate understanding of the technology, including transparent and auditable procedures, data sources and design techniques.
  4. Reliable. AI technology will have explicit, well-defined uses, and the safety, security and effectiveness of such capabilities will be subject to repeat quality testing and assurance within those defined uses.
  5. Governable. DOD intends to design and engineer AI capabilities to fulfill its intended functions with the ability to detect and prevent unintended consequences. Significantly, DOD will design AI that includes an “off switch” as a mitigation tool against machines that demonstrate unintended behavior.

The principles are coordinated with the Administration’s goals of the American AI Initiative and associated implementation efforts across Federal government agencies. The Akin Gump cross-practice AI team continues to actively monitor forthcoming domestic initiatives related to AI, including as the Federal government continues to make progress in carrying out the American AI Initiative.

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