Over the past few years, the danger of artificial intelligence has been thrown into sharp relief.
From self-driving car accidents to electioneering through disinformation campaigns to political repression enhanced by facial recognition and automated surveillance, it is clear that A.I. is transforming the security environment for nation-states, firms and citizens alike. Few guardrails now exist for a technology that will touch every facet of humanity, and countries around the world are racing to develop and publish their own strategies and guidelines for A.I.
The European Union developed an AI Alliance and plan of cooperation between member countries; the United Nations has a number of ongoing initiatives on A.I.; Brazil is creating a national strategy and establishing eight A.I. laboratories; Canada already has a national A.I. strategy called the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy; China passed its “New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan” with aggressive benchmarks to become the world’s dominant A.I. player within 10 years; Estonia is developing a legal framework governing the use of A.I. within the country; France adopted a national strategy called “AI for Humanity;” Germany adopted a national framework in 2018; Italy has an interdisciplinary A.I. task force; Kenya has an A.I. and blockchain taskforce; Saudi Arabia has both a strategy and a legal framework giving citizenship to robots; Singapore launched its national A.I. strategy in 2019; and perhaps the farthest ahead, the United Arab Emirates has a sweeping set of policy initiatives on A.I. and appointed Omar Sultan Al Olama as its minister of state for artificial intelligence.
In the U.S., numerous initiatives, cells and centers work independently on the future of A.I. on behalf of the nation. Those efforts, however, lack interagency collaboration and coordinated efforts to streamline goals, outcomes, R&D efforts and funding.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and various congressional offices attempt to define technical specifications for A.I., while the Joint AI Center and the National Security Commission on AI each focus on national security and defense. When it comes to A.I. planning, the National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan duplicates the National Security Strategy and National Security Commission on AI.
Top tech executives are often asked to serve on multiple commissions or to engage in similar efforts across government. Paradoxically, this creates a gap: with so many groups working either redundantly or even at odds with each other, the U.S. will miss strategic opportunities to coordinate efforts between the tech, finance and government sectors so that significant forward progress can be made within a reasonable timeframe.
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