Code & Conduit Podcast: Talking Artificial Intelligence with ITI’s Dean Garfield

Dean Garfield

It may be too early to regulate robots. But the government needs to play a big part in the rollout of artificial intelligence to make sure it benefits society, Dean Garfield, president and CEO of tech industry trade group ITI told Bloomberg Law.

Garfield says a national strategy for artificial intelligence could help leverage government resources to speed up the technology’s development and ensure the U.S. workforce is ready for any job disruption triggered by the technology. The U.S. would also be in better position to compete with other countries that have rolled out their own AI strategies, like China, he said.

“Whether you call it collaboration or national strategy, I think some exercise aimed at motivating the country to recognize the importance of AI is critically needed,” Garfield said in a recent episode of Code & Conduit.

Concerns about the oversight of artificial intelligence have swelled in recent months as social media companies, such Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., and autonomous vehicle companies like Uber Technologies Inc. and Tesla Inc. have faced scrutiny over the safety and security of their algorithmic technologies.

Last fall, Garfield’s group released the first industry-wide artificial intelligence policy principles to outline its priorities on the issues and help companies work with government to self-regulate.

Garfield disagrees that a new government agency should be created to oversee artificial intelligence, an idea that was floated by Tesla founder Elon Musk. Instead, AI will require multiple agencies to work together on issues like readying the workforce with new skills to develop the tech and avoid job loss.

“That’s not just a Department of Labor exercise. That’s an all-of-government exercise,” Garfield told Bloomberg Law. “So having a singular agency just won’t address it.”

The government also can help spur investment in the emerging technology, he said. A February National Science Board report predicts China will surpass the U.S. by year-end in AI research and development investments. China has stated its plans to lead the world in AI development by 2030.

The Trump administration has proposed more funding for AI research. But the government could also boost AI by letting the private sector and academia access its large data vault and high-performance computing power, Garfield said.