United States tech giants join AI committee at The White House


The White House unveiled a hands-off regulatory approach to foster the development of artificial intelligence (AI) at a gathering of more than 40 companies in Washington on Thursday.

However, the Select Committee's formation, and the fact that it was announced at a meeting of representatives from companies including Google, Facebook and Boeing - plus government figures and AI experts - signal that the White House might be ready to take the issue seriously.

The Trump administration is creating a new committee to help steer the federal government's policies on artificial intelligence (AI), an effort to keep the U.S.'s edge in technology.

Watch out China - the Trump administration has its own plans to dominate development of artificial intelligence.

There is little doubt that US tech companies and universities are already at the forefront in developing self-driving cars, robotics, smarter health diagnostics and other advances that rely on increasingly intelligent machines.

According to the charter of the committee, these include the undersecretary of commerce for standards and technology from the Department of Commerce, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering at the Department of Defense, the director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the undersecretary of energy for science within the Department of Energy, the director of the National Science Foundation, and the director of the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency.

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"It's been a huge missed opportunity up until this point", said Robert Seamans, a White House economist during the Obama administration who now teaches at the NYU Stern School of Business. The development of AI is also fuelling concerns about bias in data use and whether the U.S. sector can stay ahead of fierce competition with China. He called for a "free-market approach" that would harness the combined strength of government, industry and academia while limiting regulation that could "hamstring" companies, according to his prepared remarks. Top universities are also pitching for investment in basic research.

The creation of the new committee comes amid increasing competition from world governments to be seen as leaders in AI. Trump has yet to appoint an assistant to the president for science and technology policy, who traditionally oversees the OSTP and NSTC.

While Seamans said the USA doesn't need to take a centralized approach, he said it could be useful for administration officials to discuss the impacts of the new technology, especially for consumers and workers whose jobs are becoming obsolete or who will require new skills.

Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council trade group, told Bloomberg TV on Thursday that "jobs will change and where those jobs are may move".

Get Data Sheet, Fortune's technology newsletter. Kratsios said that "to a certain degree, job displacement is inevitable", but the U.S.

"Privacy, cybersecurity, ethics, and potential employment impact are all worthy of careful analysis", Krzanich said.