White House Director of Science and Technology Policy Calls for Stronger Public-Private Partnerships in Race to Artificial Intelligence Supremacy

Jul 31, 2019

by ASME.org

White House Director of Science and Technology Policy Calls for Stronger Public-Private Partnerships in Race to Artificial Intelligence Supremacy

White House Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Kelvin Droegemeier recently testified before the House Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies, where he spoke to a number of pressing policy issues.

With the recent spate of Artificial Intelligence (AI) legislation, such as the Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act, the Growing Artificial Intelligence Through Research Act, along with President Trump’s Executive Order directing the U.S. to increase its AI capabilities, Droegemeier was pressed to discuss the current status of AI in the federal government.

Earlier this year, the administration updated the National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan to include a call for more public-private partnerships. Droegemeier reiterated this need for stronger collaboration, noting “In America, we don’t do nearly as well with partnerships as we really could.”

Droegemeier further spoke to the pace and fervor with which the administration is looking to advance AI capabilities, explaining that there is still work to be done beyond simply increasing funding levels for AI research and development (R&D). “We kind of have a V-8 engine running on six cylinders,” he explained.

Members of the committee also asked Droegemeier about the administration’s current position on climate change. Droegemeier discussed the need for more research dedicated to understanding “how [climate change] effects at the global scale translate down to local and regional effects,” while also stating that the increase in average temperature is primarily due to the release of greenhouse gases. 

Increasing diversity in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) was also brought up. Droegemeier acknowledged the challenge is creating a diverse field of STEM workers, noting that “The research environment has got to be right; I dream of the days we can make [safe spaces] happen.”

He also highlighted the administration’s priority to diversify the STEM workforce, mentioning several programs dedicated to workforce development, such as Ivanka Trump’s “Pledge to America’s Worker” program.

To view an archived webcast of the hearing in full, click here: https://appropriations.house.gov/events/hearings/budget-and-oversight-hearing-white-house-office-of-science-and-technology-policy