On Tuesday, the Biden administration announced a number of new initiatives surrounding the use and development of artificial intelligence in the US.
The new actions include a program for what the federal government's investments in AI should look like –called the National AI R&D Strategic Plan – along with a report on the implications of AI for education.
The White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy has also put out a request for public commentary as to what the government's priorities should be when considering AI and its risks.
'Urgency and importance'
The announcements from The White House fundamentally cater to some of the deepest concerns about AI. For example, the report on AI in education, "Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Teaching and Learning," directly considers worries about how AI might upend and completely digitize education.
"Urgency and importance arise through awareness of system-level risks and anxiety about potential future risks," the report reads. "For example, students may become subject to greater surveillance. Some teachers worry that they may be replaced—to the contrary, the Department firmly rejects the idea that AI could replace teachers ... Some uses of AI may be infrastructural and invisible, which creates concerns about transparency and trust."
The request for information, additionally, asks that respondents sound off on questions like: "Are there forms of voluntary or mandatory oversight of AI systems that would help mitigate risk?"
The National AI R&D Strategic Plan is especially interesting – given that at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing this month, some questioned why we can't slow AI's development down or if we should. The White House, by outlining where its investment in AI will go, seems to be indicating that it not only doesn't expect that slowdown to happen, it's engaging in the AI arms race in its own right.
"Developed by experts across the federal government and with public input, this plan makes clear that when it comes to AI, the federal government will invest in R&D that promotes responsible American innovation, serves the public good, protects people’s rights and safety, and upholds democratic values," the release reads. "It will help ensure continued US leadership in the development and use of trustworthy AI systems."
The plan includes nine key strategies for investment, including "better understand the national AI R&D workforce needs," "make long-term investments in fundamental and responsible AI research," and "ensure the safety and security of AI systems."
Even if Elon Musk and others think that the development of AI will slow, The White House seems to be preparing for the alternative.
ChatGPT a catalyst
This all dates back to the release of OpenAI's ChatGPT in November, which quickly became the fastest-growing consumer app in history. That, though, kicked off a full-fledged AI battle between Big Tech firms, especially Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) and Microsoft (MSFT).
Microsoft, which recently re-upped its investment in OpenAI to the tune of $10 billion, has been doubling down on AI, announcing a slew of new AI-powered products during its Build developer conference on Tuesday.
Google has sought to make the case that it has been – and will always be – the leader in AI via new generative AI products. Meta (META) and Amazon (AMZN) are also getting in on the action on their own.
That rapid development in AI technologies has made Washington take notice. On May 16, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee, calling for the regulation of AI. Though lawmakers undoubtedly are interested in pursuing regulation, especially given Congress's regulatory failures during the rise of social media, what that might look like remains to be seen.
The White House has also been doing its own fact-finding. For example, this month, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris held a meeting on AI with top executives, including Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Anthropic CEO Dario Amodei, and Altman. That meeting and others like it led to Tuesday's actions, a statement from The White House said.
Allie Garfinkle is a Senior Tech Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter at @agarfinks.