Trump Administration Defends Role In AI Research

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Kyle Perisic Contributor
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President Donald Trump’s chief technology adviser, Michael Kratsios, defended the administration’s commitment to artificial intelligence research on Tuesday.

“The White House has prioritized AI, and [Trump] obviously runs the White House,” Kratsios told MIT Technology Review.

Kratsios, speaking at MIT’s EmTech Next conference, also defended the smaller Office of Science and Technology, which has about 60 staffers compared to the 120 in the Obama administration. The size of Trump’s Office of Science and Technology is at the historic average, Kratsios said.

World superpowers like China race to be the leader in AI; however, there have been a number of concerns raised about the potential danger of its usage. Outspoken critics of AI like Elon Musk — the founder, CEO, and lead designer of SpaceX — say that it is an existential threat to humanity.

“If I had to guess at what our biggest existential threat is, it’s probably that (artificial intelligence). So we need to be very careful,” Musk said to MIT students at an AeroAstro Centennial Symposium, The Guardian reported in October 2014.

The Trump administration held an AI summit at the White House on May 10 with Facebook, Amazon, Google, and dozens of other tech companies to discuss ways to advance AI in the fields of agriculture, transportation, and health care.

The Pentagon also partnered with Google to help develop AI for military use. However, Google employees were not happy about developing AI for the military. (RELATED: Google Ends AI Program With Pentagon After Employees Resign In Protest)

Google decided on June 1 not to renew a contract with the Department of Defense to help develop AI for drone strikes. Proponents of the program at the Pentagon argue that it would help reduce the number of civilian casualties, while some, like Musk, are more skeptical about the use of AI in the military in general.

With the government’s vast amount of data, Kratsios said the administration is willing to help researchers out in developing AI.

“Anything that we can do to unlock government data, we’re committed to,” Kratsios said. “We’d love to hear from any academic that has any insights.”

“Anything we can do to figure that out, we will work very hard on,” Kratsios added.

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