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Countries around the world are developing national strategies for AI – is it time for a US strategy, and what would that look like?




A general Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft that has arrived at RAF Fairford after completing the first transatlantic flight for such an aircraft is pictured, on July 11, 2018 in Gloucestershire, England.
A general Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc SkyGuardian remotely piloted aircraft that has arrived at RAF Fairford after completing the first transatlantic flight for such an aircraft is pictured, on July 11, 2018 in Gloucestershire, England.
Matt Cardy/Getty Images

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The United States has been a world leader in researching, developing and deploying cutting edge technologies for decades.

Artificial intelligence is no different, with companies like Google, Intel and others leading the way in Silicon Valley. But across the country, little is being done to advance America’s national strategy when it comes to A.I., and that has the attention of at least one defense official in the Trump administration.

The New York Times recently reported on a memo that Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis sent to President Trump in May urging him to look into developing a national strategy for A.I. To not do so, he argued, would continue to put the U.S. at a disadvantage compared to countries like China, one of America’s main technological rivals and a country that has been open about its military working with commercial and academic institutions.

What would a U.S. national strategy on A.I. realistically look like?What factors would be most important to keep in mind when developing one? And how involved should Silicon Valley be in helping create this policy? What kind of ethical concerns should we consider when it comes to allowing machines to make decisions that a human would normally make, like whether to drop a bomb or fire a missile?

AirTalk invited the Pentagon’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center to participate in our discussion but they declined our interview request.

Guests:

Will Knight, senior editor for artificial intelligence at the MIT Technology Review; he tweets @willknight

Oren Etzioni, chief executive officer of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, a Seattle-based research institute conducting high-impact research and engineering in the field of A.I. and professor of computer science at the University of Washington; he tweets @etzioni

Elsa B. Kania, adjunct fellow at the Center for A New American Security; she tweets @EBKania