Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Worth Knowing

Trump Administration blacklists top Chinese AI startups for human rights violations: The White House added 28 organizations to the Entity List for human rights abuses in Xinjiang, prohibiting them from buying U.S.-developed technologies. The list named eight tech companies, including Megvii, iFlytek and SenseTime (three of China’s top AI companies), along with Dahua and Hikvision (leading manufacturers of surveillance products).
OpenAI’s AI-powered robot learns to solve a Rubik’s Cube one-handed: OpenAI announced yesterday that it used reinforcement learning to enable a dextrous robot to complete a Rubik’s Cube. While robots have mastered Rubik’s Cubes before, “Dactyl” is unique in that it was trained in a variety of simulated environments and learned to adapt to the real world. The result is a high level of adaptability for a robotic hand, which the researchers believe may be an important step toward general-purpose robots.
Putin signs Russia’s AI strategy: President Vladimir Putin has approved Russia’s national AI strategy through 2030. The strategy, not yet translated into English, centralizes national AI efforts under the Ministry of Economic Development, according to Kommersant. Notably, it defines artificial intelligence as technology that can “simulate human cognitive functions,” including self-learning, and can achieve results comparable to those of “human intellectual activity.”
Google creates a dataset of 3,000 deepfakes to assist with detection efforts: Alphabet’s Jigsaw and Google produced and publicly released the Deep Fake Detection Dataset, with the goal of supporting research efforts to develop automatic deepfake detection. The dataset consists of 1,000 videos altered by four deepfake methods, as well as models to generate new deepfake data. Google’s move comes after Facebook, Microsoft, MIT and others dedicated $10 million to a new deepfake detection dataset and challenge.
Government Updates

NSF creates new program to fund $200M in long-term AI research over six years: The National Science Foundation announced the creation of a new National AI Research Institutes program to advance large-scale, long-term AI research. The grant will fund the creation of research institutes at the nexus of government, industry and academia focused on a series of core priorities in AI. In the first year, NSF anticipates disbursing $120 million in grants. Grant proposals are due to NSF by late January 2020.

DOE announces $13M in new funding for AI research projects: The Department of Energy’s Office of Science announced $13 million in funding for five research projects aimed at “improving AI as a tool of scientific investigation and prediction.” The projects fund both universities and DOE national laboratories. This development builds on other recent AI-related activities at the DOE, including the creation of the Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office and funding from ARPA-E for AI-developed tools to reduce nuclear power plant operating expenses.

Keep STEM Talent Act of 2019 introduced in the House: On October 4th, Reps. Bill Foster and Eddie Bernice Johnson introduced the Keep STEM Talent Act of 2019, which would provide permanent-resident status to advanced STEM degree holders. The bill, a companion to one introduced in the Senate by Sen. Richard Durbin, exempts STEM graduates from annual green card caps. Long wait times for green cards were identified as a key problem facing international AI talent in CSET’s recent report on Immigration Policy and the U.S. AI Sector.

What We’re Reading

Article: Chinese Semiconductor Industrial Policy: Past and Present and Prospects for Future Success, John VerWey in the United States International Trade Commission (July and August 2019), and The South Korea-Japan Trade Dispute in Context: Semiconductor Manufacturing, Chemicals, and Concentrated Supply Chains by Samuel M. Goodman, Dan Kim and John VerWey

Book: The Transpacific Experiment: How China and California Collaborate and Compete for Our Future, Matt Sheehan (August 2019)

Post: Critiquing Carnegie’s AI Surveillance Paper, John Honovick and Charles Rollet at IPVM (September 2019) — a response to a Carnegie paper we included in the previous edition of policy.ai

In Translation
CSET's translations of significant foreign language documents on AI

Municipal action plan for “military-civil fusion” in developing “intelligent technologies”: Tianjin Municipal Action Plan for Military-Civil Fusion Special Projects in Intelligent Technology. While many Chinese local governments have published “military-civil fusion” plans, Tianjin’s is among the most detailed. It provides insight into local efforts to steer the development of emerging technologies in directions that fulfill PLA requirements.

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