White House convenes AI summit with US tech leaders, as Europe forges ahead
The White House has convened a meeting today (May 10) of 40 leading tech firms to discuss policy issues related to artificial intelligence (AI), including workforce development, regulatory barriers, and sector-specific applications. The move follows a glut of state-sponsored European AI initiatives in the past two months.
The US government said around 100 senior government officials, business leaders and academics will attend the day-long session, organised by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and hosted by President Trump’s Deputy Assistant for Technology Policy, Michael Kratsios.
Business sectors including food and agriculture, energy and manufacturing, financial services, healthcare, and transportation and logistics will be represented, it said. The guest list features a number of leading US technology firms, notably Amazon, Facebook, Google, Intel and Microsoft, alongside a selection of major US firms served by developing AI technologies, including Bank of America, Boeing, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Ford, Mastercard, and Walmart.
The session will consider AI-based internet-of-things solutions for the agriculture, energy, manufacturing and transportation sectors, in particular.
The US tech industry has been at the forefront of the AI movement, as it has all developments in digital technology in the last 30 years. Federal interventionism has been rare, especially in an industry that is increasingly propping up the wider economy.
Even so, the last US presidential administration, under Barack Obama, was quick to research the risks and rewards of the technology, publishing at least two key papers in late 2016 – a review of and a plan – that describe a loose programme to establish the country as the undisputed king of industrial AI, and to hoist up and shore up its economy at the same time.
However, the Trump administration was quick to shelve the recommendations , and the pace for government-sponsored innovation in the field has been set by other nations.
Late in April, the Brexit-bound UK government announced a £1 billion ($1.4bn) joint investment to stimulate the country’s AI industry. The deal includes £600 million of funding, comprising £300 million of private sector investment from 50 technology firms, matched by £300 million of newly allocated government funding; it follows £400 million of AI funding that is already in place.
The British move followed on the heels of a push by the European Commission (EC) to raise €20 billion ($23.9bn) of new funds from European governments and private enterprises to stimulate the AI industry within the European Union, which the UK is quitting in March 2019. The EC initiative, itself, followed France president Emmanuel Macron’s smartly-presented €1.5 billion ($1.8bn) AI package at the end of March.
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Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, said in a statement, ahead of the May AI summit at the White House: “The tech sector is committed to ensuring that all Americans reap the benefits of this transformative technology, which has the potential to save lives, improve how we harvest food, transform education and more.”