Originally Appeared: The Hill on February 17, 2019
President Trump issued an executive order this week directing federal agencies to support the development of artificial intelligence. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
That’s because the U.S. is in a race against China to develop cutting-edge artificial intelligence technology, and it’s a race we can’t afford to lose.
“Artificial Intelligence” (AI) may bring to mind any number of futuristic pop culture references, from “Star Wars” to “Westworld”, and it may seem like something that’s decades or even centuries away. The reality is that AI is already here – it’s in the apps we use to navigate through traffic, it protects us from spam emails and more nefarious online security threats, and it’s what responds when we say “OK Google…” and “Alexa?”
Developments like these will not only continue to make our lives easier and safer, but also make it more efficient to do business and grow our economy. One study by PwC estimates that by 2030, AI will contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy, growing the global GDP by 14 percent. And according to research by Accenture, here in the U.S., further AI development by American companies would increase labor productivity by an additional 35 percent.
That’s why it’s so important for the U.S. to have policies in place that will allow U.S. companies to continue investing in research and development (R&D) of innovative AI technologies. We currently lead the world in AI R&D investment, according to a study by the National Science Foundation, but that could soon change if we have regulations that put American companies at a competitive disadvantage.
Without policies to support American companies’ ability to innovate and develop new technologies like AI, we are leaving a global vacuum that Chinese government-owned companies are eager to fill.