AI (artificial intelligence): The NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) has released a plan for prioritizing federal agency engagement in the development of standards for AI, and this is worth spending some time talking about.
President Trump said, “Continued American leadership in artificial intelligence is of paramount importance to maintaining the economic and national security of the United States.” While you might not like everything President Trump has to say nowadays, you have to like this quote. And what’s more it’s not shocking news that AI is going to spur economic growth.
Accenture released a research study in 2016 predicting that artificial intelligence is poised to double annual economic growth rates in 12 developed economies by 2035. Accenture also estimated AI would boost labor productivity by up to 40% by 2035.
AI is doing this by changing the nature of work, and that’s something we’ve talked about before on The Peggy Smedley Show and in our exclusive Connected World content. If you think about it, AI just might be as transformative in business as computer technology was at the end of the last century. AI is particularly going to benefit industries that are struggling with worker shortages.
By boosting human productivity without requiring more humans, AI can help businesses do more with less. This is one of the reasons the U.S. government is so keen on “being a leader” in AI. If AI technologies can really boost productivity, address labor challenges like skills gaps and shortages, and grow the economy, then it is definitely worth our attention and our investment as a nation.
Compared to other nations, Accenture predicts AI will yield the highest economic benefits for the United States, increasing our nation’s annual economic growth rate from 2.6% to 4.6% by 2035. That translates to an additional $8.3 trillion in gross value added.
The White House talks a big talk about the “age of artificial intelligence” and how this administration is going to take an active approach to accelerating AI innovation in the U.S. for the benefit of the American people.
In February, the president announced the AI initiative—a concerted effort to promote and protect national AI technology and innovation. The initiative aims to engage all sectors in achieving this goal, including government, academia, the public, and the private sector.
This is what the policy calls for:
- Promoting sustained AI R&D investment
- Enhancing access to high-quality cyberinfrastructure and data
- Removing regulatory barriers
- Ensuring America leads in the development of technical standards for AI
- Providing education and training opportunities to prepare the American workforce for AI, and
- Developing and implementing an action plan to protect our technological advantage in AI.
To elaborate on the point about standards, the NIST was tasked with developing a plan that would minimize vulnerability to attacks from malicious actors and develop international standards.
In July, the NIST released a draft plan for federal engagement in AI standards development, and then the finalized plan was just released this month. The plan recommends that the federal government “commit to deeper, consistent, long-term engagement” in activities that will accelerate the pace of AI technology development.
There are a few specifics that need to be addressed as well and I want to encourage everyone to have a real actual plan.
First, there is no question the rhetoric can get annoying, sometimes. Yes, ok, you’re committed to AI … but how are you going to prove it? Under the NIST plan it suggests the federal government should walk the walk and not just talk the talk:
First, it says the government needs to bolster AI standards-related knowledge, leadership, and coordination among federal agencies. This will help maximize effectiveness and efficiency.
Part of doing this will include building a staff with relevant skills and training in AI, and then providing career development opportunities and a promotion path for these individuals. This is imperative. Who wouldn’t agree to that?
In addition, it says, the government must also plan, support, and conduct research that can help explore and understand how trustworthiness of AI will play a role in the development of standards. As I see it, this is also a well thought out idea, when we are addressing trustworthiness.
Next, the government must support and expand public-private partnerships to develop AI standards. And, finally, the NIST says the government must engage internationally to advance AI standards.
Based on all the data it appears that AI innovation is going to be a key driver of economic growth for quite some time. We are seeing companies embrace it already and it is changing as a result of Gen Z and so much more. Couple that with what industries like healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and financial services are doing and the sky is the limit. But the real question then comes to how will we all innovate?
What will the worker of the future really imagine? Will we be creating AI standards that are flexible and biases-free enough to support the growth of this technology and all of its various applications? Or are we just opening up a much bigger pandora box and thus we are not solving real-world problem but creating even greater AI ethics and trustworthiness issues that we have yet to comprehend?
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