2019 AI Index Documents the Field’s Progress: Stanford University’s Institute for Human-Centered AI released its annual AI Index Report. The almost 300-page report tracks the development of AI over time across a broad range of dimensions. Among the findings: significant growth over the past few years in AI conference attendance, number of publications, investment levels, and enrollment in related education. While China led in some metrics, including total number of publications, the United States led in others, such as citation impact, investments and patents. The report also includes a Global AI Vibrancy Tool that lets users compare countries’ relative strengths in AI.
OECD: Chinese Semiconductor Firms Benefit Most From Government Support: The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development published a report on government support in the semiconductor industry, which found that total government assistance (including grants, tax concessions, below-market debt and below-market equity) to private semiconductor companies from 2014 to 2018 topped $50 billion worldwide. Chinese companies received the most support, amounting to 85 percent of all below-market equity and 98 percent of all below-market debt that the study identified. For SMIC and Tsinghua Unigroup in particular, government support made up more than 30 percent of their annual revenue.
Commerce Department Restricts Export of Certain AI Software: The Bureau of Industry and Security amended the Export Administration Regulations on Monday to include restrictions on the export of geospatial AI software. The interim rule requires a license for export and reexport of this software to all destinations except Canada. Restricted software must use a deep convolutional neural network to automate the analysis of geospatial imagery and have a variety of specific characteristics. The rule is open for comment until March 6th. Additional restrictions on exports of emerging technologies are expected.
FY20 Appropriations Increase Funding for AI: The Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations act passed by Congress and signed by the President in late December included substantial investments in AI-related activities. It funded the Joint AI Center at $183.83 million. While $25 million below the President’s request, this was a significant increase over the FY2019 funding of $93 million. Overall, the measure provided $77.5 million above the President’s request for Department of Defense AI-related activities.
NDAA-Mandated RAND Report Finds DOD Unprepared to Integrate AI: A federally mandated report on the Defense Department’s posture in AI found that the DOD’s approach is “significantly challenged across all dimensions.” The RAND Corporation’s independent assessment concluded that the JAIC lacks the authority and resources to implement the DOD’s vision for AI. In addition, the authors determined the current state of verification, validation, test and evaluation is “nowhere close” to ensuring the safety of AI applications. The report recommends new governance structures and strategic planning initiatives, among other actions.
China’s Strategy for Innovation-Driven Development:Outline of the National Innovation-Driven Development Strategy: Translation of a CPC Central Committee and PRC State Council strategy identifying industries that China feels would most benefit from increased indigenous innovation. The document also identifies foreign talent and technology transfer as crucial for China’s emerging technology sectors.
China’s Ten-Year Strategy for Education Reform:Outline of the National Plan for Medium- and Long-Term Education Reform and Development: Translation of a CPC Central Committee and PRC State Council strategy for education reform issued in July 2010. Although the strategy doesn’t mention emerging technologies explicitly, the document addresses international educational exchange and cultivation of world-class talent, which has implications for emerging technology.