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Biden sets stage for national AI strategy


AI skills gap

One question Biden should address in his national AI strategy is how to shore up the AI skills gap, according to the NSCAI’s report.

The NSCAI, established in 2018 In March, the NSCAI issued its final report on areas that need to be addressed to accelerate AI growth and development in the U.S., which includes shoring up the gap in AI talent shortage.

Beena Ammanath, executive director of the Deloitte AI Institute, said the AI skills shortage is an issue countries around the world are grappling with. For the U.S. to advance AI development, closing the skills gap needs to be prioritized as part of a national AI strategy, she said.

“AI skills are a scarcity no matter where,” Ammanath said. “It’s great to have a strategy and invest, but then how do you actually get the talent?”

The NSCAI recommended the Biden administration build new AI talent pipelines, including a U.S. Digital Service Academy to train existing and future employees in AI, as well as a civilian National Digital Reserve Corps — similar to the National Guard — to recruit talent such as college graduates and industry experts.

According to the report, the U.S. Digital Service Academy (USDSA) would be an accredited, degree-granting university modeled after the U.S. military service academies. Graduating students would be required to serve five years in the federal government.

“The human talent deficit is the government’s most conspicuous AI deficit and the single greatest inhibitor to buying, building and fielding AI-enabled technologies for national security purposes,” the report stated. “This is not a time to add a few new positions in national security departments and agencies for Silicon Valley technologists and call it a day. We need to build entirely new talent pipelines from scratch.”

Stephen Ezell, vice president of global innovation policy at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said workforce development will be a key factor to advancing not only AI research but development and use of commercial AI products.

“Over the past decade, both federal and workforce investment in worker training has declined by about a third,” Ezell said. “It’s important to develop these interesting technologies, but without the workforce to utilize them, it won’t be the result we want.”


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