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Technology White House’s top techie explains how AI initiative will help Seattle tech community

20:50  26 february  2020
20:50  26 february  2020 Source:   geekwire.com

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One year after the White House kicked off the American AI Initiative, its effects on research and development in the burgeoning field of artificial intelligence are just beginning to sink in.

Michael Kratsios wearing a suit and tie: White House chief technology officer Michael Kratsios speaks at last year’s Web Summit in Portugal. (Web Summit via YouTube) © Provided by Geekwire White House chief technology officer Michael Kratsios speaks at last year’s Web Summit in Portugal. (Web Summit via YouTube)

And Michael Kratsios, the White House’s chief technology officer, says those effects are sure to be felt in Seattle — where industry leaders including Amazon and Microsoft, and leading research institutions including the University of Washington and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence are expanding the AI frontier.

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This month, funding for AI emerged as one of the bright spots in a budget proposal that would reduce R&D spending on a number of other fronts. Kratsios said the White House conducted a “cross-cut” analysis of non-defense spending on AI research, and found that it amounted to roughly $1 billion.

“We made the big step of announcing, a couple of weeks ago, a doubling of AI R&D over two years,” he told me this week in an interview marking the anniversary of the American AI Initiative.

The two-year plan foresees spending $2 billion annually on AI research by 2022. “We think this is a game-changer moment for AI R&D in this country,” Kratsios said.

He said Seattle-area researchers would be in on the game. “People at the University of Washington and other institutions around the country will be able to apply and tap into those new funds,” he told me.

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a group of people standing next to a man in a suit and tie: White House chief technology officer Michael Kratsios meets with University of Washington computer science professor Ed Lazowska on the UW campus during a visit to Seattle last October. (OSTP Photo via Twitter) © Provided by Geekwire White House chief technology officer Michael Kratsios meets with University of Washington computer science professor Ed Lazowska on the UW campus during a visit to Seattle last October. (OSTP Photo via Twitter)

Efforts to bring clarity to the regulatory environment for AI applications should also help the Seattle area’s tech community, he said.

“There is nothing more discouraging for an innovator than having a great product, but having no concept about how, when, where and under what constraints the federal government is going to be regulating it,” Kratsios said. “With the regulatory principles … our innovators now have a clear vision of the way that the federal government is thinking about these products, and they can more confidently be innovating in this space than they were before.”

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Those draft guidelines call for a “light-touch,” agency-by-agency approach to AI regulations. They also promote the development of trustworthy AI, and encourage public engagement in discussing the social issues surrounding AI. And speaking of public engagement, they’re open for public comment through March 13.

To mark the anniversary of the American AI Initiative’s kickoff, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy today issued a “Year One Annual Report” on its progress. The report touches upon the funding outlook and the regulatory approach, as well as efforts to train an AI-ready workforce and work with U.S. allies to boost competitiveness on the AI frontier.

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