Intel Editorial: How Governments Can Help Advance Artificial Intelligence

The following is an opinion editorial provided by Naveen Rao of Intel

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Naveen Rao was the founder of Nervana and is now corporate vice president and general manager of the Artificial Intelligence Products Group at Intel Corporation. (Photo: Intel Corporation)

Most people agree that artificial intelligence (AI) will transform
modern society in positive ways. From autonomous cars that will save
thousands of lives, to data analytics programs that may finally discover
a cure for cancer, to machines that give voice to those who can’t speak,
AI will be known as one of the most revolutionary innovations of mankind.

But this fantastic future is a long way off, and the path to get us
there is still under construction. Never before has society undertaken
such a significant transformation so deliberately, and no blueprints
exist to guide us. Yet one thing is clear: AI is bigger than any one
company, industry or country can address on its own. It will take the
whole of our technology ecosystem and the world’s governments to realize
the full promise of AI.

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Industry and academia have been actively pursuing this future for quite
some time, and early solutions are already having an impact. Government
entities have been slower to engage but are now crafting strategies to
advance AI and solve some of their biggest challenges. China, India, the
United Kingdom, France and the European Union have already come out with
formal plans for AI, and this is good. We need more countries to develop
AI strategies – especially the U.S.

Ultimately governments, industry and academia should collaborate toward
the advancement of AI. An ideal public-private arrangement would apply
regulation sparingly while simultaneously fostering innovation and a
thriving ecosystem. It’s the kind of arrangement the U.S. is known for,
and a key reason that most of the great achievements of the technology
industry grew out of U.S.-based companies.

In my role as leader of Intel’s artificial intelligence programs, I am
often asked how governments can help AI progress. To that question, I
offer three priorities:


Beginning in the elementary grades, school systems must start thinking
about their curricula with AI in mind, including development of whole
new education tracks. An early example of this is the AI degree program
under development at the Australian National University. This
first-of-its kind program is being crafted by Senior Intel Fellow and AU
computer science professor Genevieve Bell. More is needed. Schools can
also take interim steps to better incentivize STEM pathways from an
early age. Discounted tuition or accelerated degree programs for data
scientists may be one way to produce more of the scientists we badly
need to fully realize the benefits of AI.

Then there’s the user side of the AI society. Just as schools used to
teach basic typing skills or computer skills, they will need to teach
“guided computational” skills so that people who work with machines can
successfully interact with them. Because some jobs will most certainly
be automated in the AI future, it’s also important to emphasize skills
that are uniquely human. Person-to-person interaction will never go
away, and those who are good at it will be in high demand.

Research and Development

In order to craft effective public policy, governments should develop an
AI perspective. One of the best ways to do this is through nationally
funded R&D. Great programs are already underway around algorithmic
explicability both in the U.S. and Europe. In the U.K. specifically,
government-funded initiatives are addressing the use of AI for early
diagnosis of illness, reducing crop disease and delivery of digital
services in the public sector. This is good and more is needed.

Governments globally should lean in to develop effective methods for
human-AI collaboration and engagement, find ways to ensure the safety
and security of AI systems, and develop shared public data sets and
environments for AI training and testing. Many of these challenges will
be addressed through collaborations between academia, industry and
government, with the latter funding more research projects through
institutions like the National Science Foundation and the National
Institute of Standards and Technology. These efforts would go a long way
toward clarifying the regulatory requirements that will be needed in our
AI future.

Regulatory Landscape

AI will affect a whole host of laws and regulations. There are dense
thickets of policies around liability, privacy, security and ethics –
all areas where AI could come into play and where thoughtful debate is
needed before laws and regulations are developed. Governments too eager
to proscribe AI in various forms will hinder the advancement of AI.

One early and positive step forward would be the liberation of
government data. Around the world, governments have access to a trove of
useful data that could propel deep learning and accelerate delivery of
some AI. This data should be liberated in a responsible, secure way.

Healthcare is one area where the immediate benefits would be profound.
De-identified data from medical records, genomic data sets, research and
treatment programs could give AI the insight needed to make breakthrough
discoveries in mental health, cardiovascular disease, drug therapies and
more. Allowing federated access to data from distributed repositories
held in different sites – all while preserving privacy and security –
would propel AI forward in our global quest for better health.

While we all look optimistically to an AI-powered future, much work lies
ahead. It will take all of us working collectively – industry, academia
and government – to get it done. We look forward to achieving together
the positive impacts AI will bring.

Rao was the founder of Nervana and is now corporate vice
president and general manager of the Artificial Intelligence Products
Group at Intel Corporation.

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