Trump signs artificial intelligence order to boost US competitiveness

President Trump signed an executive order on Monday aimed at boosting U.S. investment in, and development, of artificial intelligence capabilities.

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“Continued American leadership in artificial intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States,” the president said in a statement.

The order instructs federal agencies to focus on artificial intelligence in their research and development efforts. The directiive is expected to expand access to government data for researchers to help advance the technologies.

The order – dubbed the American AI Initiative – also calls for the development of approproate technical and safety standards, while promoting efforts to transition workers into new related jobs.

Artificial intelligence is seen as a way to generate advancements across multiple fields, from defense to health care to transportation. It is a branch of computer science that allows for machines to learn from experience, and relies on access to vast quantities of data.

America is widely considered the world leader in artificial intelligence – however, many believe the Chinese government’s vast access to data might give it an advantage in the coming years. Beijing has already announced a sweeping AI initiative of its own.

Trump’s defense team has been particularly involved in the assessment of the potential benefits of new technologies. Officials from the Defense Department and Department of Homeland Security took part in a meeting with companies developing quantum computing technologies last year. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis also took a tour of the prominent Silicon Valley companies – including Google and Amazon – in late-2017.

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Meanwhile, U.S. and Chinese officials resumed trade discussions on Monday amid a looming March 1 deadline. If no agreement is reached at that time, the Trump administration’s 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will rise to 25 percent – escalating a protracted trade conflict.