With the first anniversary of ChatGPTs release to the public coming up, President Joe Biden has signed an executive order that lays out the goals for the regulation of artificial intelligence. American investment in AI is expected to reach $100 billion by 2025, a sign of just how important this technology is becoming. Other countries are following suit. Nations such as Germany, India and China are all creating their own plans for how they’ll use the new technology. Notably, China is aiming to double its investment to more than $15 billion in AI by 2026. The artificial intelligence revolution is in full swing.
The development of artificial intelligence not only serves an economic purpose, but a militaristic one as well. As the U.S. looks to secure its place as the global AI leader, it should supplement private investments with governmental support.
The government often involves itself in the private industry when circumstances demand it. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress passed large stimulus bills for businesses to keep the American economy afloat. While in this case, the government used its funds to prevent companies from going bankrupt, it can also fund them to advance American interests.
The Defense Production Act gives the government the authority to direct industries to manufacture and research goods and technologies that are deemed critical for national defense. In 2020, the government invoked the DPA to require companies to produce desperately needed ventilators along with materials for shipyards. Now the U.S. needs to stay ahead of the curve on AI.
Although Congress could simply subsidize the AI industry to help it grow more, executive use of the DPA would make more sense in today’s context. Artificial intelligence clearly qualifies for DPA funding — the Department of Defense considers AI crucial in modern warfare and counterterrorism. Using the DPA lets the DoD help the rapidly growing industry while also securing U.S. interests.
The DPA would allow the government to set goals and guidelines for AI developers to follow. This would, in theory, give the government the ability to ensure innovation is occurring at a quick rate and encourage the creation of systems to combat the AI technologies of adversaries.
While the government’s intervention in the industry would benefit national security, some argue that government intervention, especially in the form of overregulation, would hurt development. This was the situation in Europe: The European Union’s overregulation of AI halted development in the field due to the failure of companies to comply with data protection laws. As a result, companies trying to operate in an area with significant overregulation may be hesitant to do so. Despite the DPA’s appearance as a form of government regulation, it is actually a way for the government to push the industry to develop more while giving guidance and funding.
The government’s role in funding and guiding how AI is developed through the use of the DPA allows for there to be more opportunities in the field. Using the DPA would allow for goals such as reigning in immoral actions and keeping AI on an ethical track. The act would also provide additional funding to an industry that is on the rise, allowing for the creation of more jobs in the field.
The nation’s defenses through the use of the DPA would create a more modernized military capable of not only deterring and defending against adversaries, but provide innovation in how the military operates on a day-to-day basis. The latter half of which is heavily focused on maintaining a smaller military force that is just as if not more efficient. Is becoming extremely useful as the U.S. military is currently facing a recruiting crisis.
The combination of the two benefits that are created through the use of the DPA, form to create a greater view of what is possible. The DPA acts as a multifaceted tool for the U.S. defense and being used in tandem will lead the nation towards the goal set of being the leaders in the field while not sacrificing one component or the other while doing so.
The DPA would turn AI development from an individualistic pursuit to a national one. The country could meet both its defense priorities and improve the lives of its citizens as this technology becomes a larger part of the American economy. The AI industry is one on the rise, in order for it to reach new heights, the use of the DPA becomes a very viable way to do so.
Thomas Muha is an Opinion Columnist. He writes about issues relating to social media and the internet. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on X @TJMooUM.