National AI strategies in the world's most powerful countries

USA

USA

The USA finally launched a national strategy on AI in February 2019, when President Trump signed an executive order creating the American AI Initiative.

It directs federal agencies to prioritise AI investments, to increase access to data science resources, boost training in AI skills, to promote an international environment that supports American industries while protecting the US against competitors and adversaries and to establish guidance for AI development and use.

It also calls for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to lead the development of technical standards for efficient, secure and interoperable AI systems.

Few details were provided on how these goals will be achieved, and no specific funding was announced for the initiative. The reaction from the US AI community mixed relief that a strategy had finally been launched with concern that it was largely a symbolic expression of support for the sector amid growing competition from China.

Despite the misgivings, the initiative at least answered the call for the US to follow the lead of most other major global powers and release a national AI strategy.

The Obama administration had previously published a review of AI and R&D strategic plan, but its successor has focused on cutting regulatory barriers and funding for research. It has also included AI in other policy areas, such as a national security strategy that calls for AI investment, but lacked a coordinated national plan prior to launching the American AI Initiative.

The federal government's inaction led local administrations to devise regional plans, notably in New York, where Mayor de Blasio announced the creation of the Automated Decision Systems Task Force, which will explore how the city uses algorithms.

Russia

Russia

Russia has been stepping up its investment in AI under President Vladimir Putin, who proclaimed in 2017 that "the one who becomes the leader in this sphere will be the ruler of the world".

Two months later, the government announced that it was planning to spend 28 billion rubles (£326 million) on AI R&D by 2020. That commitment was nearly doubled in the 2019-21 plan for Digital Technologies released the next year.

In March 2018, a draft AI roadmap was produced at the "Artificial Intelligence: Problems and Solutions — 2018" conference hosted by Russia's Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Education and Science, and the Russian Academy of Sciences.

It recommended 10 policies, including developing an AI consortium of leading scientific, educational and industrial organisations, a new state education system for the subject, a National Centre for AI, and war games using AI analysis. The final version of the roadmap is scheduled to be released in mid-2019.

Germany

Germany

Germany released its national AI strategy in November 2018. The government committed to spend €3 billion (£2.6 billion) on boosting AI capabilities over the next six years, a figure that it expects the private sector to match.

The strategy includes plans to create a national network of at least 12 R&D centres, at least 100 university AI professors, a German observatory for AI, and guidelines for developing and using AI systems that comply with data protection rules.

It also adds to Germany and France's plans for greater eurozone integration. The two countries will develop a joint R&D network dubbed a "virtual centre" that combines the different skills they each offer, and help form a European innovation cluster for funding for cooperative research projects.

UK

UK

The UK government released the AI Sector Deal in April 2018 pledging £1 billion of investment in education, infrastructure and the business environment.

The money will fund 1,000 PhDs, the training of 8,000 specialist computer science, new data sharing frameworks and three new supporting bodies: a Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation, an AI Council that brings together leaders in the field, and an Office for AI  in Whitehall, which DeepMind cofounder Demis Hassabis will advise.

China

China

In July 2017, China published a comprehensive national strategy worth $150 billion (£113.9 billion) to make the country the global leader in the field by 2030 with AI related-industries worth 10 trillion renminbi (£1.1 trillion). The investment will be supported by the development of laws and regulations for AI, training talent at home and recruiting it from abroad.

The country’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology published a further document in December 2017 that outlined its strategy for 2018 to 2020. The action plan combines specific targets for technical achievements, such as diagnosing more than 95 percent of common diseases using AI, with more general targets including mass production of neural network processing chips.

India

India

India released a national AI strategy centred on social good in June 2018. The paper identified a series of hurdles that had historically held the country back and selected five focus areas for AI intervention: healthcare, healthcare, agriculture, education, smart cities and infrastructure and smart mobility and transportation.

The report has a long list of policy recommendations covering research, IP, collaboration, workforce, education, use of data, and ethics. It also proposes creating a two-tiered research system comprising COREs (Centres of Research Excellence in Artificial Intelligence) focused on key research, and an ICTAI (International Centre for Transformational Artificial Intelligence) that provides the ecosystem for application-based technology development and deployment.

Japan

Japan

In June 2017, Japan released an AI strategy with a three-phase roadmap towards AI industrialisation based on the country's existing strengths and the problems it faces.

The plan prioritises using AI to benefit productivity, health, welfare and mobility, and concentrates on boosting research and development by nurturing young talent and unifying data formats and standards.

France

France

France will invest €1.5 billion (£1.3 billion) in AI over four years as part of a national strategy it released in June 2017.

It aims to turn France into an AI world power by developing a data-focused economic policy, keeping French talent in France, creating policies that address the effects of AI on the labour market and ensuring that AI is ethical, inclusive and diverse.

Canada

Canada

Canada's $125 million (£72 million) AI strategy was released in March 2017. It aims to increase the number of AI researchers and skilled graduates in Canada, establish interconnected nodes of scientific excellence in Edmonton, Montreal and Toronto, develop global thought leadership on AI and support a national AI research community.

The strategy focuses on research and training to create a mass of talent that will help Canadian businesses succeed in the AI market.

EU

EU

The EU aims to improve consumer trust in AI applications developed in the bloc by ensuring high ethical standards.

In an AI strategy published in April 2018, the European Commission called for the EU's public and private sectors to increase AI investment by at least €20 billion (£17.7 billion) before the end of 2020 and pledged to boost its own contribution to €1.5 billion (£1.3 billion).

The Commission also announced that it had started work with EU member states to create a coordinated plan on AI by the end of 2018.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.