Trump’s White House keen to release public data to help US AI market

‘Anything that we can do to unlock government data, we’re committed to,’ a senior White House technical advisor tells an MIT conference.

Posted 6 June 2018 by Gary Flood

The US government is prepared to release any data that might help fuel AI research in the United States – and claims to have “quietly” increased funding for the tech by 40% during President Trump’s first 18 months in office.

White House staffer Michael Kratsios, deputy US chief technology officer, told a tech conference at science Uni MIT this week that the government is looking for ways to open up Uncle Sam’s databanks to AI researchers.

“Anything that we can do to unlock government data, we’re committed to,” he told researchers – although he didn’t specify what kind of data would be released, or who would be eligible to receive the information.

That could be a significant step, as the US state has access to large amounts of data that could be used to train innovative algorithms to do new things. “Anything we can do to figure that out, we will work very hard on,” Kratsios promised.

The US AI community may need a bit more persuasion, though – as many are sceptical about the real depth of Trump’s commitment to science and technology.

For instance, the White House Office of Science and Technology has about 60 staff – half of what it had during Obama’s Presidency.

But Kratsios – speaking at the University’s EmTech Next emerging technology trends conference – said this was in line with earlier administration levels, before going on to state that his team included people familiar with a range of advanced technologies, including quantum computing.

The US government at its highest level is also pretty confident it has a strong lead in AI and does not fear encroachment on this by other national efforts to beef up competence in the field, especially China: “It’s not surprising that [other] countries are embracing an industry the US has been leading on for years,” he said.