What’s the Future of AI for Federal Government?

The federal government is gearing up for a widespread AI initiative. On September 9, 2019, over 175 leaders and innovators in government, industry, and academia collaborated at the White House’s Summit on Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Government. AI is the future, and this partnership between the private and public sector is leading the way.

“We have so much potential to use AI in a way that reduces costs, improves quality of services, empowers people, and increases efficiency,” said Michael Kratsios, Chief Technology Officer of the USA, in his opening remarks. 

First on the agenda? Although individual agencies have adopted AI into their working practices before, the federal government is looking to initiate an AI Center of Excellence (CoE) as a central hub for all federal agencies. An AI CoE would enable different agencies to share their AI know-how and support new initiatives. 

Some departments are already pioneering this effort. The Department of Defense’s own interdepartmental AI CoE is the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC). The JAIC develops AI capabilities for disaster relief and humanitarian aid from tracking wildfires to providing road and flood analysis. 

Meanwhile, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has focused its AI efforts into optimizing their database. PubHealth, one of the most visited federal databases, will improve search capability by implementing a “best match” algorithm due to go live in the next two months. 

The Department of Health and Human Services has similarly focused on usability with its “AI for Deregulation” pilot. This natural language processing program will analyze burdensome and redundant language in regulations to streamline the US regulations system.

While the summit has introduced new AI initiatives and highlighted some of the federal government’s recent innovations, it’s not new that AI is a government priority. In February 2019, the White House announced an American AI initiative to promote and protect national AI innovation. Even before that, the White House created a strategic plan for national AI research and development in 2016. 

The government has already projected $1 billion in non-defense AI research and development in 2020, and industry experts believe it may take a lot more to take the lead in the AI race. Nevertheless, it is critical for the federal government to lead the implementation of AI-based innovations.


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