Report: United States needs a national AI strategy

The United States could fall behind in the AI revolution if the country does not adopt a national strategy, according to a report by the Center for Data Innovation.

“The United States is the global leader in developing and using artificial intelligence (AI), but it may not be for long,” Joshua New, a senior policy analyst at the Center for Data Innovation, wrote in the report. “Succeeding in AI requires more than just having leading companies make investments. It requires a healthy ecoystem of AI companies, robust AI inputs—including skills, research and data—and organizations that are motivated and free to use AI. And that requires the federal government to support the development and adoption of AI.”

The Center is a non-profit, non-partisan research institute affiliated with the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

In the report, New argued that AI is set to become a “major driver” of innovation, growth and social welfare. With this transition comes AI investments, which, in turn, will benefit the public, private and nonprofit sectors. While other nations recognize this shift in the market and have begun to take action, the United States absent AI strategy will cause U.S. companies, including healthcare organizations, developing AI to lose their advantage in global markets.

The report suggested that the U.S. Congress and the White House should create an national AI strategy that “addresses significant challenges inhibiting the development and adoption of the technology.” The strategy should have six goals:

  1. Support key AI organizational inputs
  2. Accelerate public-sector adoption of AI, including for national security
  3. Spur AI development and adoption in industry, including through sector-specific AI strategies
  4. Support digital free trade policies
  5. Foster innovation-friendly regulation
  6. Provide workers with better tools to manage AI-driven workforce transitions

Additionally, the report offered 40 recommendations to help implement and achieve these goals, including: conducting AI research and development, ensuring any regulation of AI is innovation friendly and ensuring data availability in key areas such as healthcare.

When it comes to data sharing, the report encouraged federal agencies to support the creation of shared pools of “high quality, application-specific training and validation data in key areas of public interest,” with healthcare being one of those key areas. Agencies, such as HHS, should develop and pilot data trusts to facilitate data sharing in specific application areas, the report suggested.

“The barriers in the healthcare sector typify the challenges firms face in developing and using AI effectively. The potential for AI to deliver benefits in this sector, such as by discovering new drugs, reducing costs and improving patient care, is significant,” New wrote. “Yet organizations face a wide variety of factors limiting their ability to access the data necessary to take advantage of AI effectively.”

Additionally, developing a national AI strategy could provide: a boost to U.S. economic competitiveness, help support U.S. defense capabilities and overcome market failures.

“The benefits of AI—to the competitiveness of firms in the United States, to economic growth, to government operations and to social welfare—and the risks of falling behind are too vast for policymakers to either sit on the sidelines hoping private-sector action is enough, or to believe that the government’s main role should be shaping and constraining AI through regulation without concerning themselves with the challenges the private sector faces. It is time for a national AI development and adoption strategy,” the report concluded.