The National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan outlines eight priority areas for federal investment in artificial intelligence (AI) research and development (R&D). Released June 2019 by the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence of the National Science and Technology Council, the plan does not offer specific regulatory, policy, or research guidance to individual federal agencies. Rather, it identifies broad, high-impact areas where federal investments in R&D stand to significantly increase economic prosperity and national security. These impact areas are meant to serve as a framework for tracking progress in federal R&D spending in the field of artificial intelligence.
The 2019 strategic plan updates the 2016 strategic plan (SciPol Brief available) in response to feedback solicited from researchers and organizations, adding one new strategic priority: expanding public-private partnerships to accelerate basic research and its translation into applied technologies that advance economic and national security goals. Speech recognition, machine translation, and self-driving cars are examples of technologies that have found major industry applications after long periods of basic academic research sustained by federal investments. The report further lists the Defense Innovation Unit, the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program, and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Tech Sprint initiative as examples of federal agencies engaged in leveraging both academic and industrial expertise to address pressing national challenges.
The 2019 plan preserves the seven strategic priorities established in the earlier report:
- Making long term investments in basic AI research to ensure the continued development of promising early-stage technologies.
- Developing effective methods for human-AI collaboration through better visual and language-based interfaces to AI technologies.
- Addressing the ethical, legal, and societal implications of new AI technologies, such as ensuring that decisions made by AI systems are transparent and fair.
- Ensuring the safety and security of AI systems by making systems reliable and resistant to tampering.
- Developing public datasets and tools to increase researchers’ access to the materials needed to conduct research on topics of national importance.
- Developing standards and benchmarks for measuring AI progress in priority areas.
- Understanding the needs of the national AI R&D workforce in order to better prepare students for work in AI-related fields.