Top of the Rock, New York, United States — Photo by @timovaknar

The United States Needs a National Vision for Artificial Intelligence

However We Have to Ask Whether New Policy Will Consider the Climate Crisis

Looking at the strategies of China, France and India there is a general focus on the environment and sustainability. It is easy to spot early on in the United States statement on the Whitehouse website in the Artificial Intelligence for the American People that there is no focus on climate change. The National Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Strategic Plan: 2019 did not contain many thoughts regarding the climate crisis either nor the ecological environment. Then again this may not come as a surprise since the President Trump formally pulled out of the Paris agreement, and this is being formalised to come into effect one day after the election of a new president.

Thus since the current strategies and plans can be said to have no vision in regards to climate change, environment nor sustainability we have to look elsewhere for vision.

A National Vision for AI

The 23rd of October 2019 a post was made to the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI (HAI). This post was called We Need a National Vision for AI, it was written by By Fei-Fei Li and John Etchemendy who are both co-founders of HAI. They start the text with a clear message:

“Establishing global leadership through a bold AI policy and plan is critical for the economic growth and stability of our society”

Climate Change

“AI has the ability to be a force multiplier of our very best — and very worst — intentions. It can help us address our most vexing challenges: managing natural resources; mitigating climate change…”

The issue of climate change is not very visible in the post, in fact only mentioned a single time, so it does not feature prominently. Yet it is mentioned, and that is far better than any current US strategy as done. As such this vision is already an improvement compared to the current vision in the United States.


“We should provide early-stage support for emerging technologies through grants, investment and technical resources, with an emphasis on agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, sustainability and clean energy.”

Sustainability was also mentioned just one time in the vision and it could feature more prominently, however again it is already better than the current AI Strategy.

Make AI a Clear Strategic Priority

The text suggests a new AI ecosystem across education, research and entrepreneurship, with an investment of at least $120 billion over ten years.

  1. Support public research to pursue the next generation of AI breakthroughs, with an emphasis on interdisciplinary research.
    Budget: $7 billion/ year. Establish national and regional research hubs in partnership with leading universities and emphasise cross-disciplinary research and diverse teams. Launching a National Research Cloud would provide high value data and high-performance computing for public-interest research.
  2. Invest in education, with an emphasis on inclusion.
    Budget: $3 billion (double the current annual federal K-12 STEM spend). The US needs to educate a more diverse future workforce in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), including artificial intelligence and computer science, as well as support research and programs to address job displacement and reskilling.
  3. Spur innovation and support entrepreneurs. Budget: $2B. Entrepreneurship is the heart of the US economy. The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council estimates firms with fewer than 100 employees comprise 98% of US businesses.
  4. Implement clear, actionable international standards and guidelines for the ethical use of AI. Partner with foreign governments, companies, and civil society organizations to concretely implement global AI principles, such as those developed by the OECD.

It must be mentioned that while Obama was in office there was a report called Preparing for the Future of Artificial Intelligence that was released October 2016. Within this report both climate and sustainability is mentioned several times. This is as you by now know quite contrary compared with later reports and strategic communication during the Trump administration.

This is #500daysofAI and you are reading article 159. I write one new article about or related to artificial intelligence every day for 500 days.



AI Policy and Ethics at Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store