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Obama White House's Final Tech Recommendation: Invest in AI

By Computerworld

December 21, 2016

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In what is likely to be the Obama administration's final report on technology policy, the White House recommends investing in artificial intelligence (AI) research and development to shore up the U.S. economy and help the country "stay on the cutting edge of innovation."

"Anything we can do to have more AI will contribute to more productivity growth and will help make possible more wage and income growth," says Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers.

The report also notes potential job displacement by AI could be countered via investments in education, and by establishing a safety net for those affected.

One theme of the report is "technology is not destiny," meaning a solid policy can ameliorate the impact of change driven by AI. Although the report notes it is difficult to predict the type and rate of AI-driven change, it says, "AI-driven automation has unique features that may allow it to replace substantial amounts of routine cognitive tasks in which humans previously maintained a stark comparative advantage."

However, Ed Felten, deputy chief technology officer at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, doubts AI will achieve general-purpose, human-like intelligence in the next two decades.

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