Biweekly updates on artificial intelligence, emerging technology and security policy.

— Subscribe here —

Worth Knowing

OpenAI experiment tests how AI might “evolve” through competition: Researchers observed teams of AI agents playing billions of games of hide-and-seek in an attempt to understand emergent behavior. Over time, agents learned to use available tools in increasingly complex ways — including adopting strategies that programmers did not expect. The researchers hope this type of reinforcement learning will allow AI systems to solve increasingly complex problems in the future, but found the number of repetitions required makes it difficult to apply this technique to real-world settings.
California legislature bans facial recognition use by law enforcement: Both houses of the California legislature passed AB-1215, which prohibits law enforcement from “installing, activating, or using any biometric surveillance system in connection with an officer camera” for three years. The bill now goes to Gov. Gavin Newsom; if he signs it, California will become the largest state to ban specific uses of facial recognition.
Kalaris Conference convenes AI and national security experts: U.S. security interests will suffer if the United States doesn’t work with its allies to invest wisely in AI capabilities, leading figures from the intelligence and defense communities said at the Kalaris Intelligence Conference last week. CSET and Georgetown University’s Center for Security Studies co-hosted the annual conference. Among the speakers were Sue Gordon, former Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and Lt. Gen. Jack Shanahan, director of the DoD’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center.
France releases military AI strategy: The French Ministry of the Armies has published a comprehensive report on military use of AI, building on the strategy laid out by Minister of Armies Florence Parly in April. The document establishes a Coordination Unit for Defense AI and a ministerial AI ethics committee, and it commits 430 million euros ($470 million) to AI research by 2025. The strategy describes the United States and China as global leaders in AI, but outlines a possible role for France if it coordinates with other nations within and outside the EU.
Government Updates

JAIC and GSA announce partnership to expand Pentagon’s use of AI: The General Services Administration and the DoD’s Joint AI Center announced their new partnership through the GSA’s Center of Excellence initiative on September 25th. They aim to expand the Pentagon’s use of AI by accelerating the delivery of AI capabilities and modernizing programmatic and acquisition processes. GSA also hopes the partnership will spur greater AI adoption across government.

Office of Technology Assessment Improvement and Enhancement Act introduced in House and Senate: Reps. Takano and Foster and Sens. Tillis and Hirono introduced the bipartisan Office of Technology Assessment Improvement and Enhancement Act in both houses of Congress on September 19th. It would revamp, rename and improve the OTA — which was defunded in 1995 — to ensure nonpartisan technology assessment is available to Congress. The House FY20 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill includes $6 million to fund the OTA; the Senate bill defers the issue until an ongoing report is complete.

MQ-25, the Navy’s unmanned refueling drone, completes successful test flight: The U.S. Navy announced a successful first test flight for its autonomous refueling drone, the Boeing-developed MQ-25 Stingray. The two-hour flight included autonomous taxi and takeoff. The Navy plans to integrate the MQ-25 into its strike arm by 2024 as the first carrier-launched autonomous unmanned aircraft.

Additional $8 million for NIST AI research included in Senate appropriations bill: The Senate FY20 Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations bill includes $1.04 billion for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, a $52.5 million increase above the FY19 enacted level. Of the additional funds, $8 million would be allocated to expand NIST’s AI research and measurement efforts, including developing resources to model AI behavior and train, test and compare AI systems.

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

The emerging technologies of interest to China’s military: Guidelines for Basic Research and Cutting-Edge Technology Projects (2018): Issued by China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, this document identifies several emerging technologies of interest to the Chinese military. SASTIND circulated these guidelines to Chinese universities and research institutes in 2018 to encourage them to apply for grants to conduct basic research in PLA areas of interest.

What’s New at CSET


What else is going on?
Suggest stories, documents to translate & upcoming events here.
Worth Knowing

Study finds flow of AI professors to industry discourages innovation: New research from the University of Rochester shows that after AI professors leave academia for private-sector work, fewer of their students start AI companies. The study, first covered by The New York Times, found that about 10 times as many North American professors left for tech companies in 2018 as did in 2009. The researchers say this trend could eventually hamper AI innovation and the economy.
Preview of Russia’s AI strategy: President Vladimir Putin is reviewing a draft AI strategy that he ordered state-owned Sberbank to prepare, according to DefenseOne. The wide-ranging document covers fundamental investments in AI — including funding for research, ethical and data regulations, and hardware and software developments — as well as specific applications of AI in healthcare and education. The final version is expected next month.
Record number of submitted papers for NeurIPS: The Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems received 6,743 paper submissions this year — up 39% from last year, and double the number of submissions in 2017. Google, MIT and Stanford were the most common institutional affiliations across accepted papers. Since NeurIPS is the largest annual AI conference, its metrics are often used as indicators of continued growth and enthusiasm in the field of machine learning.
Partnership on AI calls for improving immigration policies that affect AI experts: The Partnership on AI, which connects major tech companies with government and NGOs to create collaborative proposals, released a report last week calling for increasing access to visas and other immigration benefits for global AI/ML experts. The report lays out policy recommendations including streamlined visa reviews for highly skilled individuals, AI/ML visa classifications and visa categories for AI/ML students and interns.
Government Updates

White House requests $1B in non-defense AI spending in 2020: The Trump administration submitted a supplemental request for $973.5 million in non-defense AI R&D spending for fiscal year 2020. While this number is higher than previous years, some industry leaders say it’s not enough. Looking ahead, a White House memo listed AI as a priority for the 2021 R&D budget.

Senate Defense Appropriations bill boosts defense funding for AI: The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its 2020 Defense Appropriations bill, which now awaits Senate consideration. The bill supports the President’s budget request for the Joint Artificial Intelligence Center at $208.8 million. In addition, it provides $83.5 million above the President’s budget on accounts labeled for AI-related Research, Development, Test and Evaluation.

White House holds AI Summit: On September 9th, the White House held The Summit on AI in Government for 175 industry, government and academic experts in AI. The event concluded with three case studies of AI use to improve government operations.

Air Force releases 2019 AI Strategy: On September 12th, the Air Force released its Annex to the DoD AI Strategy issued in 2018. The Annex aligns USAF strategy with that of DoD and focuses on expanding access to AI, preparing an AI workforce and treating data as a strategic asset.

What We’re Reading

Attacking Artificial Intelligence: AI’s Security Vulnerability and What Policymakers Can Do About It, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School (August 2019)

A Tentative Framework for Examining U.S. and Chinese Expenditures for Research and Development on Artificial Intelligence, The Institute for Defense Analyses Science & Technology Policy Institute (September 2019)

In Translation
CSET's translation of significant Chinese-language documents on AI

Open-Source AI development platforms: Guidance on National New Generation Artificial Intelligence Open Innovation Platform Construction Work: Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology document describing the updated approval process for Chinese AI tech companies’ “open innovation platforms.” This document builds on the 2017 AI Development Plan, which identified open-source platforms as crucial to making China the world leader in AI by 2030.

What’s New at CSET