Mattis Urged AI Strategy Earlier This Year, Report Says

James Mattis Defense Secretary DoD

Defense Secretary James Mattis in May urged President Trump to create a “whole of country” national strategy to advance U.S. development of artificial intelligence technologies, shortly after the White House’s announcement on May 10 of a new AI advisory committee–the Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence–to advise the White House on research and development efforts across government and industry.

According to a report in the New York Times, Mattis’ letter to the President included a suggestion to establish a presidential commission capable of “inspiring a whole of country effort that will ensure the U.S. is a leader not just in matters of defense but in the broader ‘transformation of the human condition.’”

Also on May 10, the administration released a statement touting that “The Trump Administration has prioritized funding for fundamental AI research and computing infrastructure, machine learning, and autonomous systems.” The Office of Management and Budget, along with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, listed AI as a pivotal R&D priority for all Federal agencies in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.

The ball has kept rolling since then, as the Defense Department said it began to operationalize its newly established Joint Artificial Intelligence Center. DoD CIO Dana Deasy has called AI one of his key strategic areas, noting that cloud computing technology will power that revolution. The White House is also on the cusp of releasing the first update to its Federal cloud computing strategy in nearly 8 years.

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