US President Donald Trump has made it clear he wants to “take the lead” on AI.
And as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he has already made a big impact on the field of artificial intelligence.
He has given an intelligence conference in New York City, and recently appointed an AI expert to chair the Senate panel.
And now, he’s set to take the lead on an artificial intelligence initiative at the US intelligence community.
Congress wants to help put a US artificial intelligence mission into the hands of the public, and in 2020 Congress will have to decide how to spend US money to pay for it.
“The Congress needs to be more active,” said Dr Michael Aitken, director of the Centre for Research on Intelligence (CRISIL).
“They should be the ones to take this on, rather than the agency which has been a very reluctant partner in this area.”
The US is currently a partner in two AI projects.
In September 2019, the US Congress passed a bill allowing for the Department of Homeland Security to buy $1bn worth of the UK’s AlphaGo Go AI software for $US6.5bn ($8.4bn).
The legislation also allows for the US to help develop and commercialise a new artificial intelligence platform called The Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), which would be able to perform missions and develop the tools that could help the US defend the country.
But the legislation is unlikely to be enacted.
“This is going to be a challenge, it is a very tricky bill to pass,” said Aitke.
“It is the first time the US government has been asked to contribute to the defence of the United States.”
The bill is likely to face significant resistance.
In February, the Trump administration released a draft report on artificial intelligence policy that outlined the need for a new US military AI program.
But in an interview with Reuters, Pentagon Chief of Staff Gen James Mattis warned that it could take decades to build an AI system that could replace the capabilities of human soldiers.
“We have to do this in a way that is sustainable,” he said.
“But I do believe it is the right time for this to happen.”
The government has also proposed a $US60bn (£42bn) fund for developing and commercialising AI technologies, and has already begun to fund research into using machine learning to better understand the human brain.
The report said the government needed to establish an AI research infrastructure, with the aim of creating a “next generation of AI” that could “lead to a more robust and efficient national security workforce”.
“If the Government does not make this a priority, this will ultimately impact upon the entire national security community, and it will have negative ramifications on our ability to defend our nation,” said Stephen Coughlan, director at the Centre on National Security and Intelligence Policy at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars.
Aitkin said the Trump Administration needed to start funding AI research now, and “if you don’t have a plan in place for the future, we will not be able or willing to invest the necessary funds in the future”.
The Trump Administration also has pledged to support the development of AI systems that could assist US intelligence in its fight against al-Qaida, and to work with other countries to develop the capabilities needed to fight the group.
“When you look at the way we are dealing with the threat of al-Qaeda, they’re all over the map,” said Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut.
“I think that we need to take on a very specific kind of AI threat and try to bring them to our attention in a comprehensive way, not just as an individual entity, but a global threat.”
The President has also called for a $20bn fund for AI research, and a $10bn US military budget.
But some experts say that figure is unlikely, given the huge cost of funding an AI effort in 2020.
“At the moment, the federal government is not spending enough on AI research to meet the needs of the 21st century, and that will continue to be the case,” said Robert O’Brien, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne.
“There’s also a very real possibility that it will become impossible for the government to effectively fund AI research.”
Aitkans worries About what to do with AI is a contentious debate in the US.
On one side, there is the “AI lobby” that sees AI as a threat to the very nature of human intelligence, which is built on the idea that intelligence comes from within us and that it should be taught and honed by us.
On the other, there are “big data” researchers who see AI as an opportunity to build new, faster and more powerful systems that can better understand and manipulate data.
“People often talk about the future of intelligence as being a singularity, but the question is: How do you think the future will look like in