Excessive top-down federal funding and governance of scientific and technology research will be increasingly incompatible with a future of lightly regulated science and technology specifically, and with limited government generally.
Neither political party takes that view though. In a rule-of-experts, “send-the tax-dollars-home” environment, America risks becoming vulnerable to industrial policy and market socialist mechanisms as frontier technologies become more complex.
Addressing infrastructure and other broad initiatives a year ago in his February 5, 2019, State of the Union address, for example, president Donald Trump called for legislation “including investments in the cutting edge industries of the future” and proclaimed, “This is not an option, this is a necessity.”
Along with such spending having thick strings attached and accompanying regulatory effects that propagate, it is not proper for the sciences nor practical applications of them to proceed walled off from one another in the arbitrary legislative appropriations and regulatory environments that prevail in Washiington.
Artificial intelligence in particular serves as a case study – or warning. Emblematic was Executive Order 13859 of February 11, 2019 on “Maintaining American Leadership on Artificial Intelligence” and the establishment of the “AI Initiative,” which were followed by the March 19, 2019 launching of the federal hub AI.gov (now whitehouse.gov/ai).
Executive orders are not law, but they can influence policy, and this one promotes “sustained investment in AI R&D in collaboration with industry, academia,” and other doings.
E.O 13859 also calls for federal collection of data among other centrally coordinated moves. “Actions shall be implemented by agencies that conduct foundational AI R&D, develop and deploy applications of AI technologies, provide educational grants, and regulate and provide guidance for applications of AI technologies.”
Whew. This federalization is concerning on its own, but it occurs in an environment in which much AI research at the federal level happens under the auspices of the Department of Defense.
Read the full article at Forbes.