Artificial Intelligence for the American People
The age of artificial intelligence (AI) has arrived, and is transforming everything from healthcare to transportation to manufacturing.
America has long been the global leader in this new era of AI, and is poised to maintain this leadership going forward because of our strong innovation ecosystem. Realizing the full potential of AI for the Nation requires the combined efforts of industry, academia, and government. The Administration has been active in developing policies and implementing strategies that accelerate AI innovation in the U.S. for the benefit of the American people. These activities align with several areas of emphasis: AI for American Innovation, AI for American Industry, AI for the American Worker, and AI with American Values. This AI.gov website provides a portal for exploring these activities in more depth, and serves as a resource for those who want to learn more about how to take full advantage of the opportunities of AI.
“Continued American leadership in Artificial Intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States.”
– President Donald J. Trump
02 AI for American Innovation
America’s decades-long leadership in AI research and development has resulted in cutting-edge, transformative technologies that are improving lives, growing innovative industries, empowering workers, and increasing national security. These successes are the result of a strong, long-term emphasis on visionary, competitive, and high-payoff fundamental research programs that advance the frontiers of AI. American R&D investments in AI are measured not only by the amount of our financial investment, but also in the quality and impact of the results.
As part of the Nation’s AI Strategy, in February 2020 the President committed to doubling nondefense AI R&D over two years. These AI investments continue to emphasize the broad spectrum of challenges in AI, including core AI research, use-inspired and applied AI R&D, computer systems research in support of AI, and cyberinfrastructure and datasets needed for AI. Cross-disciplinary AI investments focus on the wide range of applications of importance to the nation, including science, medicine, communication, manufacturing, transportation, agriculture, and security. As described in the NITRD Supplement to the President’s FY2021 Budget and detailed on the NITRD AI R&D Investments dashboard. AI investments are prioritized in agency budgets and coordinated across the Federal government to leverage the efficiencies of shared interests, while also identifying and filling gaps in our investment portfolios.
Our approach strengthens and leverages the unique and vibrant American R&D ecosystem, combining the strengths of government, academia, and industry. Special emphasis is placed on innovative public-private partnerships that accelerate AI discoveries. The result is a thriving R&D enterprise that maintains American leadership in AI technologies.
“Federal contributions in early-stage R&D can help lay the technical and scientific foundation for truly revolutionary new technologies, particularly those that require sustained support before becoming attractive for private sector investment. The President’s 2020 Budget prioritizes investments for four key Industries of the Future: artificial intelligence, quantum information sciences, advanced communication networks (including fifth generation networks and beyond), and advanced manufacturing.”
“Advances in AI are crucial for the U.S. science and engineering enterprise, and nearly all sectors of our 21st-century economy. Many of the transformative uses of AI that we are witnessing today are founded in federal government investments in fundamental AI research that reach back over decades. Building the foundations of tomorrow’s AI innovations will require new interdisciplinary collaborations, resources, and strategic vision – principles that NSF has championed in its support of fundamental AI research.”
– Dr. France Córdova, Director, National Science Foundation.
“The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA) invests in high-risk, high-payoff research programs that have the potential to provide our nation with an overwhelming intelligence advantage. The world is increasingly complex and full of data, and we have reached a point where there aren’t enough humans to sort through the data and make the complex simple. AI provides us with the critical capabilities needed to handle this big, complex world and to achieve an intelligence advantage.”
– Dr. Stacey Dixon, Director, Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity
“Continued leadership in AI, quantum information science (QIS), and strategic computing is critically important to our national security and economic competitiveness. Advances in these areas promise opportunities for major scientific breakthroughs and are quickly transforming American life and industry. Agencies should invest in fundamental and applied AI research, including machine learning, autonomous systems, and applications at the human-technology frontier.”
Harnessing Artificial Intelligence and High Performance Computing:
“The development of artificial intelligence (AI) is advancing at a rapid pace, and the 2019 Budget invests in fundamental AI research and computing infrastructure to maintain U.S. leadership in this field. AI holds the potential to transform the lives of Americans through improved technology integration in the workplace and enhanced standards of living at home.”
“New technologies include advanced computing, “big data” analytics, artificial intelligence, autonomy, robotics…— the very technologies that ensure we will be able to fight and win the wars of the future.”
“The Department [of Defense] will invest broadly in military application of autonomy, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, including rapid application of commercial breakthroughs, to gain competitive military advantages.”
NSTC Select Committee on AI
To improve the coordination of Federal efforts related to AI, the White House chartered a Select Committee on AI in 2018 under the National Science and Technology Council. In early January 2021, the Select Committee was expanded and made permanent, and serves as the senior interagency coordination body referenced in the National AI Initiative Act of 2020. The Select Committee consists of the most senior R&D officials across the Federal government and represents a whole-of-government approach to AI R&D planning and coordination. This Committee advises the White House on interagency AI R&D priorities; considers the creation of Federal collaborations with industry and academia; establishes structures to improve government planning and coordination of AI R&D; oversees the annual coordinated interagency budget for AI; facilitates the coordination of the National AI Research Institutes; and identifies opportunities to prioritize and support the national AI R&D ecosystem. The Select Committee also provides guidance and direction to the NSTC Machine Learning and AI Subcommittee, which serves as the operations and implementation arm of the committee.
AI R&D Strategic Plan
Guiding the Nation in our AI R&D investments is the National AI R&D Strategic Plan: 2019 Update, which identifies the critical areas of AI R&D that require Federal investments. Released by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy’s National Science and Technology Council, the Plan defines several key areas of priority focus for the Federal agencies that invest in AI. These areas of strategic AI R&D focus include: continued long-term investments in AI; effective methods for human-AI collaboration; understanding and addressing the ethical, legal, and societal implications for AI; ensuring the safety and security of AI; developing shared public datasets and environments for AI training and testing; measuring and evaluating AI technologies through standards and benchmark; better understanding the National AI R&D workforce needs; and expanding public-private partnerships to accelerate AI advances.
The process for creating this Plan began in August of 2018, when the Administration directed the Select Committee on AI to refresh the 2016 National AI R&D Strategic Plan to account for significant recent advancements in AI, and to ensure that Federal R&D investments remain at the forefront of science and technology. The Select Committee then issued a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit input from the public on the current AI R&D Strategic Plan, to determine ways the strategy should be revised or improved. The responses to this RFI, as well as an independent agency review, informed the 2019 update to the Plan.
The National AI R&D Strategic Plan: 2019 Update defines the priorities for the overall portfolio for Federal AI R&D investments. Federal agencies take these priorities into account when developing their own budget proposals and agency plans, as appropriate to their respective agencies’ missions. This coordinated Federal strategy for AI R&D will help the United States to continue to lead the world in cutting-edge advances in AI that will grow our economy, increase our national security, and improve our quality of life.
In September 2019, agencies for the first time reported their nondefense R&D investments in AI according to this Plan, through the NITRD Supplement to the President’s FY2020 Budget. This new AI R&D reporting process provides an important mechanism and baseline for consistently tracking America’s prioritization of AI R&D going forward. This report also provides insight into the diverse and extensive range of nondefense Federal AI R&D programs and initiatives.
Progress on AI R&D
Research and development is a top priority of the United States national strategy for AI. Demonstrating this priority, in August 2020, the White House, NSF, and additional Federal partners announced $140 million in awards over five years to seven NSF-led AI Research Institutes. These collaborative research and education institutes will focus on a range of AI R&D areas at universities around the country. Additional awards are anticipated in the coming years.
To document the impactful progress the nation has made in AI through Federal R&D investments, the White House issued the 2016-2019 Progress Report: Advancing Artificial Intelligence R&D in November 2019. This progress report illustrates the considerable breadth and depth of Federal investments that are leading to transformative advancements in the state of the field. As a nation, we benefit significantly from the broad spectrum of Federal agencies that invest in AI from their unique mission perspectives, consistent with the national AI R&D strategy. For example, in December 2019 the Department of Veterans Affairs announced its National AI Institute. With this institute, our country’s AI R&D will benefit from the largest integrated health care system in the country and the largest genomic knowledge base in the world linked to health care information, provided by the VA. These investments are generating impactful breakthroughs that are revolutionizing our society for the better.
Computing Infrastructure for AI R&D
While algorithms and data play strong roles in the performance of AI systems, equally important is the computing infrastructure upon which the AI system runs. Advances in AI will continue to be dependent on hardware optimized for AI algorithms, including novel designs for neuromorphic computing, hardware accelerators for machine learning, embedded systems, and parallel architecture research motivated by AI processing requirements. The American AI Initiative calls for federal agencies to allocate high-performance and cloud computing resources to AI-related applications and R&D.
The United States is a world leader in the development of high-performance computing infrastructure that supports AI research. In June 2018, the U.S. Department of Energy introduced the Summit scientific supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Summit provides unprecedented computer power for research across a broad variety of scientific domains, including artificial intelligence, energy, and advanced materials. Summit also provides unmatched capabilities for integrating AI and scientific discovery. In May 2019, DOE announced plans to build the Frontier supercomputer, which is expected to debut in 2021 as the world’s most powerful computer that maintains U.S. leadership in high-performance computing and AI.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) also invests significantly in the exploration, development, and deployment of a wide range of cyberinfrastructure technologies that can be useful for AI R&D, including next-generation supercomputers. In 2018, NSF funded the largest and most powerful supercomputer the agency has ever supported to serve the nation’s science and engineering research community. The new high-performance computing system, called Frontera, will be a system with the highest scale, throughput, and data analysis capabilities ever deployed on a university campus in the United States.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration also has a strong high-end computing program, and is augmenting their Pleiades supercomputer with new nodes specifically designed for MLAI workloads.
“Today’s launch of the Summit supercomputer demonstrates the strength of American leadership in scientific innovation and technology development. It’s going to have a profound impact in energy research, scientific discovery, economic competitiveness, and national security,” said Secretary Perry. “Summit will empower scientists to address a wide range of new challenges, accelerate discovery, spur innovation, and above all, benefit the American people.”
Data Resources for AI R&D
High quality datasets are critically important for training many types of AI systems. The Federal government facilitates AI innovation by investing in shared public datasets. The American AI Initiative calls for agencies to make Federal data, models, and computing resources more available to America’s AI R&D experts, researchers, and industries. This will be done to foster public trust and increase the value of these resources to AI R&D experts, while maintaining the safety, security, civil liberties, privacy, and confidentiality protections we all expect. These efforts will work in concert with the President’s Management Agenda and implementing the Open, Public, Electronic, and Necessary, (OPEN) Government Data Act. In March of 2018, the President’s Management Agenda laid out a new Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) goal of leveraging data as a strategic asset. This CAP goal will result in the development and implementation of the Federal Data Strategy, which defines principles, practices, and an action plan to generate a more consistent approach to the use, access, and stewardship of Federal data. In addition, the National Science Foundation is leading in the development of a cohesive, federated, national-scale approach to research data infrastructure through the Harnessing the Data Revolution Big Idea. This initiative provides a significant opportunity to transform research across all areas of science and engineering, including AI. Together, these actions will drive our top-notch AI research toward new technological breakthroughs and promote scientific discovery, economic competitiveness, and national security.
R&D for AI Standards
Standards are essential for ensuring that AI technologies meet critical objectives for functionality and interoperability. The Federal government engages in the development of technical standards and related tools in support of reliable, robust, trustworthy, secure, portable, and interoperable systems that use AI technologies. These activities ensure that technical standards for AI reflect Federal priorities for innovation, public trust, and confidence.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is the leader in advancing foundational research in measuring and assessing AI technologies, including the development of AI data standards and best practices, as well as AI evaluation methodologies and standard testing protocols. As directed by the American AI Initiative, NIST released a plan in August 2019 for Federal engagement in the development of AI technical standards.