Smart Government Policies Needed to Strengthen U.S. Leadership of Artificial Intelligence

Monday, Aug 13, 2018, 2:38pm

by David Isaacs, Vice President, Government Affairs

Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged in recent years as a potentially transformative technological leap forward, holding the potential to fundamentally change how individuals, societies, and nations interact. At the heart of all AI-related innovations is semiconductor technology. A new SIA white paper outlines the critical role of semiconductor technology in enabling AI and the government policies needed to harness the potential of this promising technology and ensure continued U.S. leadership in AI.



While the United States maintains a leading role in AI technology, mainly through its dominant position in semiconductor technology, other countries are investing heavily in AI to close the gap. For the United States to maintain or expand its AI lead, SIA argues in the white paper that the U.S. government and industry must deepen their partnership to enable breakthrough innovations. In particular, at the federal level, SIA argues the government should pursue the following actions:

  1. Fund precompetitive basic research for AI hardware. The federal government needs to increase research funding through agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and the The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for programs that promote basic research in AI. Such funding is particularly critical in the wake of other countries’ prioritization of research funding for AI. In addition, continued specific government funding for the development of faster supercomputers, such as exascale, is essential for AI research.
  2. Develop the AI workforce. The federal government should support policies that help prepare workers to create and work alongside AI technologies. This starts with supporting STEM education in elementary and secondary schools, including research funded by NSF to evaluate effective teaching techniques and practices, but it also includes federal funding for the training of graduate-level scientists and engineers who are the future AI innovators. A secondary focus in this area should be effectively addressing displaced workers with retraining and other support. AI will transform society, and such a change will clearly redefine work as we know it. The government should anticipate such changes and begin now to explore policy solutions.
  3. Promote open data policies. The federal government should provide access to some of the most comprehensive data sets it possesses. Data is the fuel that drives AI, and to realize AI’s full potential, large government datasets must be available to researchers.
  4. Mitigate potential undesirable impacts of AI. The federal government should partner with industry to establish voluntary guidelines for the ethical use of AI and to help prevent it from being used in ways that could harm the public. This should include efforts to identify which AI applications should require further explanation and investment in R&D on needed explainability.
  5. Protect security and privacy of sensitive data. The federal government should partner with industry to facilitate the development of effective security and privacy mechanisms from their theoretical foundations to their effective implementations and lifecycle management. This includes funding research into novel approaches to threat modeling in an ever-more-connected ecosystem, security-aware software execution models to counter both known and unexpected threats, security-aware hardware and software development design/co-design tools to build security in our systems at their foundations, and security and privacy foundations, including cryptography.

Taking action in these five areas will help ensure we unlock AI’s full potential and keep America at the tip of the spear in AI innovation.