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The U.S. has been at the head of AI research since its inception but, in recent years, China has made significant headway and narrowed the gap. Now, according to a report in U.S. News & World Report, non-military AI research is set to get a significant boost by the U.S. government.

In fact, in the president’s 2020 budget request, AI has its own category, with nearly $1 billion requested for non-military purposes. This represents approximately 12% of the total amount requested (PDF) by Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NSTC). The NSTC says the government will focus specifically on AI algorithms, enhanced performance and AI systems that better mimic human intelligence.

Addressing one of the biggest concerns surrounding the development of AI, the NSTC said the research will also look for ways to promote “safe and effective methods for human–AI collaboration.” This could include anything from improved interfaces to human augmentation. Already, critics of AI development have labeled it humanity’s “biggest existential threat,” making it imperative to proceed safely and responsibly.

In spite of the nearly $1 billion slated for AI development, however, many experts say it’s not enough to keep up with China. Without additional investments, the U.S. is still at risk of falling behind in what is shaping up to be one of the most important technological frontiers in history.



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