White House Announces Select Committee on AI

The White House has announced a new Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, according to Michael Kratsios, the deputy assistant to the president for technology policy.

According to Kratsios, who spoke last week at a White House AI summit, “This select committee will be comprised of the most senior R&D officials across the federal government. It will align interagency R&D priorities and improve planning and coordination of federal AI investments.”

The select committee “will be co-chaired by the White House’s National Science and Technology Council and the directors of the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency,” writes Jory Heckman of Federal News Radio.

Kratsios suggested the federal government has an advantage in its access to data.

“AI research is fueled by immense amounts of training data,” Kratsios said. “We can greatly improve that research by opening access to the government’s vast troves of taxpayer-funded data in ways that don’t compromise privacy or security.”

The announcement is one of a handful made by federal agencies in recent weeks, as the government speeds up its understanding and adoption of artificial intelligence technologies, spurred by similar eagerness among leaders in nations including China and Russia.

Last week, according to Michael Griffin, the “newly appointed and first undersecretary of Defense for research and engineering” announced the the Defense Department will also “open a joint office focused on developing artificial intelligence prototypes,” as reported by FedScoop’s Billy Mitchell.

The planned “Joint Artificial Intelligence Office” would be one of a number of similar offices across DOD focused on researching and implementing emergent technologies, such as hypersonics, according to Griffin, whose remarks came at a Friday discussion at the Hudson Institute.

Mitchell notes the timing of the announcement, with the remarks closely corresponding to the end of Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ Senate testimony. Mattis also highlighted increased use of emergent technologies.

“We’re going to move things into production, prototyping,” Mattis said in his testimony. “We’re not going to have more papers, we’re going to move on hypersonics, move on AI.”

Mattis took pains to note that the effort would be a coordinated one. “We’re looking at a joint office where we would concentrate all of DOD’s efforts since we have a number of AI efforts underway right now, we’re looking at pulling them all together,” he said.

Griffin said at the event that the details of the office’s precise structure, location, makeup, etc…are still being finalized.

“When we make a decision, we’re not going to keep it a secret,” he said. “But I can’t tell you that I’ve got an answer today.”

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