The government explores artificial intelligence

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Artificial intelligence (AI) via predictive analytics is a game-changer. At last week’s Kentucky Derby, an AI platform that had previously predicted the winners of the Oscars and Super Bowl predicted the Kentucky Derby superfecta. The AI platform predicted the first-, second-, third- and fourth-place horses at 540-1 odds, netting the technology’s inventor Louis Rosenberg $10,842 on a $20 bet. How will this translate to the federal government?

{mosads}On May 3, The White House issued a very interesting document: “Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence.” Recognizing that AI is a technology area full of both promises and potential perils, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced that it will co-host four public workshops topics in AI to spur public dialogue on AI and machine learning.

In addition, a new National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Subcommittee on Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence was established to monitor state-of-the-art advances and technology milestones in AI and machine learning within the federal government.

Information technology research firm Gartner describes AI as a “technology that appears to emulate human performance typically by learning, coming to its own conclusions, appearing to understand complex content, engaging in natural dialogs with people, enhancing human cognitive performance or replacing people on execution of non-routine tasks.”

Emergent AI and its corresponding components of machine learning, augmented reality and cognitive computing technologies are no longer things of science fiction.

The promise of these technologies is very exciting. Earlier this month, Microsoft U.K.’s chief envisioning officer, Dave Choplin, claimed that AI is “the most important technology that anybody on the planet is working on today.” And as USA Today notes, “Google CEO Sundar Pichai says the next big evolution for technology is artificial intelligence.”

Companies are already developing technology to distribute AI software to millions of graphics and computer processors around the world. Applied AI machine learning and natural language processing can be used to solve a variety of business problems. There are many implications for utilizing this kind of AI technology, including next-generation robotics.

As the MIT Technology Review notes, “Nvidia announced a new chip called the Tesla P100 that’s designed to put more power behind a technique called deep learning.” The company invested $2 billion in research and development (R&D) to design a graphics-processing architecture, as the company stated, “dedicated to accelerating AI and to accelerating deep learning.” Industry is also working on “neuromorphic” technology that can incorporate nano-chips into wearables modeled on the human brain. Eventually these nano-chips may be implanted into our brains artificially, augmenting human thought and reasoning capabilities.

In government, DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), IARPA (the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity) and many of the National Labs are engaged in R&D to develop AI uses for national security, law enforcement, healthcare, transportation and commerce. In fact, the Pentagon played an instrumental role in the creation of one of the best known examples of AI, the self-driving car. Beginning in 2004, DARPA hosted a series of autonomous vehicle “Grand Challenges.” The challenges spurred a wave of commercial R&D efforts.

Do we need a series of agency grand challenges focused on the potential role of artificial intelligence in addressing certain sector-specific issues? Would these challenges spur additional waves of commercial R&D efforts? We must ensure that the tremendous opportunities that AI brings are balanced out by a well-thought approach to privacy, security and regulation. The White House public workshops are the right step in that direction. We have to act fast, because the emerging technologies of AI and their implications are moving fast than we can imagine.

Brooks serves as the vice president for government relations and marketing at Sutherland Government Solutions. He is also vice chairman of CompTIA’s New and Emerging Technologies Committee. Brooks served at the Department of Homeland Security as the first director of legislative affairs for the Science and Technology Directorate. He also spent six years on Capitol Hill as a senior adviser to the late Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.). Follow him on Twitter @ChuckDBrooks and on LinkedIn.

Logsdon is the senior director of public advocacy for CompTIA. In this role, he runs the association’s New and Emerging Technologies Committee (focused on the policy surrounding social, mobile, big data/data analytics, cloud, the Internet of Things and smart cities). He was also the staff lead for CompTIA’s federally focused technology convergence commission, which examined the impact on the public sector when social, mobile, analytics and cloud converge. Follow him on Twitter @DJLSmartData.

Tags AI Artificial intelligence DARPA Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency IARPA Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity National Science and Technology Council NSTC R&D Research and development

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