About Artificial Intelligence

In 1956, researchers in computer science from across the United States met at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire to discuss seminal ideas on an emerging branch of computing called artificial intelligence, or AI. They imagined a world in which “machines use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve the kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves”. 1 This historic meeting set the stage for decades of government and industry research in AI. These investments have led to transformative advances now impacting our everyday lives, including mapping technologies, voice-assisted smart phones, handwriting recognition for mail delivery, financial trading, smart logistics, spam filtering, language translation, and more. AI advances are also providing great benefits to our social wellbeing in areas such as precision medicine, environmental sustainability, education, and public welfare.

As defined by the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act of 2020 (DIVISION E, SEC. 5001), “The term ‘artificial intelligence’ means a machine-based system that can, for a given set of human-defined objectives, make predictions, recommendations or decisions influencing real or virtual environments. Artificial intelligence systems use machine and human-based inputs to – (A) perceive real and virtual environments; (B) abstract such perceptions into models through analysis in an automated manner; and (C) use model inference to formulate options for information or action.” Topics typically encompassed by the term “AI” include machine learning, computer vision, natural language processing and understanding, intelligent decision support systems, and autonomous systems, as well as the novel application of these techniques to various domains.


1. [ J. McCarthy, M. L. Minsky, M. Rochester, C. E. Shannon, “A Proposal for the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence”, August 31, 1955. (Available in AI Magazine, Volume 27, Number 4, pp. 12-14, 2006.) ]

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NAII – National Artificial Intelligence Initiative

The National Artificial Intelligence Initiative (NAII) was established by the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act of 2020 (NAIIA) (DIVISION E, SEC. 5001) – bipartisan legislation enacted on January 1, 2021. The main purposes of the initiative are to ensure continued US leadership in AI R&D; lead the world in the development and use of trustworthy AI systems in public and private sectors; prepare the present and future US workforce for the integration of artificial intelligence systems across all sectors of the economy and society; and coordinate ongoing AI activities across all Federal agencies, to ensure that each informs the work of the others.

In support of the Initiative, the NAIIA directs the President, acting through the NAII Office, interagency committee (Select Committee on AI) and agency heads, to sustain consistent support for AI R&D, support AI education and workforce training programs, support interdisciplinary AI research and education programs, plan and coordinate Federal interagency AI activities, conduct outreach to diverse stakeholders, leverage existing Federal investments to advance Initiative objectives, support a network of interdisciplinary AI research institutes; and support opportunities for international cooperation with strategic allies on R&D, assessment, and resources for trustworthy AI systems.

The National AI Initiative provides an overarching framework to strengthen and coordinate AI research, development, demonstration, and education activities across all U.S. Departments and Agencies, in cooperation with academia, industry, non-profits, and civil society organizations. The work under this Initiative is organized into six strategic pillars – Innovation, Advancing Trustworthy AI, Education and Training, Infrastructure, Applications, and International Cooperation.

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NAIIO – National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office

Located in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office (NAIIO) is legislated by the NAII Act (DIVISION E, SEC. 5102) to coordinate and support the NAII. The Director of the NAIIO is appointed by the Director of OSTP. The NAIIO is tasked to:
NAIIO Seal
  • Provide technical and administrative support to the Select Committee on AI (the senior interagency committee that oversees the NAII) and the National AI Initiative Advisory Committee;
  • Oversee interagency coordination of the NAII;
  • Serve as the central point of contact for technical and programmatic information exchange on activities related to the AI Initiative across Federal departments and agencies, industry, academia, nonprofit organizations, professional societies, State and tribal governments, and others;
  • Conduct regular public outreach to diverse stakeholders; and
  • Promote access to technologies, innovations, best practices, and expertise derived from Initiative activities to agency missions and systems across the Federal Government.

The NAIIO staff include employees on detail assignments from across the government.
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SCAI – Select Committee on AI

Select Committee on AI

credit: Erik Jacobs, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Select Committee on AI meeting in November 2018

The Select Committee on AI (Select Committee) was established in 2018 and serves as the interagency AI body overseeing the NAII. The Select Committee is co-chaired by the Director of OSTP and, on an annually rotating basis, a representative from the Department of Commerce, the National Science Foundation, or the Department of Energy. The Select Committee consists of the most senior R&D officials across the Federal agencies and represents a whole-of-government approach to AI R&D planning and coordination. The Select Committee provides interagency coordination of Federal AI R&D and education activities; develops a strategic plan for AI; encourages agency programs and initiatives for AI R&D and education that enhance competitiveness and job creation, and that address societal issues related to AI; identifies opportunities to improve access to high quality datasets and computational infrastructure for AI R&D; facilities the coordination of the National AI Research Institutes; identifies opportunities to collaborate on AI with academia, industry, civil society, and international allies; and annually proposes and reports on a coordinated interagency budget for the Initiative.

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MLAI-SC – Machine Learning and AI Subcommittee

The NSTC Machine Learning and AI Subcommittee (MLAI-SC)

credit: Erik Jacobs, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
Machine Learning and AI Subcommittee meeting in March 2019

The National Science and Technology Council Machine Learning and AI Subcommittee (MLAI-SC) serves as the operations and implementation arm of the Select Committee on AI, and is responsible for fulfilling tasking from the Select Committee. It consists of agency AI leaders and administrators. The MLAI-SC regularly updates and maintains the National AI R&D Strategic Plan; and identifies and contributes to important policy issues for AI R&D, datasets, computational infrastructure, testing, standards, benchmarks, education, outreach, and related areas.

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AI R&D IWG – NITRD AI R&D Interagency Working Group

The Artificial Intelligence Research and Development Interagency Working Group (AI R&D IWG) was formed in 2018 to coordinate Federal AI R&D across 32 participating agencies and to support activities tasked by both the Select Committee on AI and the Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence Subcommittee (MLAI-SC). Guided by the eight strategic priorities of the National AI R&D Strategic Plan: 2019 Update, the AI R&D IWG gathers information from AI experts to ensure that government investment in AI R&D results in innovative applications to address the Nation’s challenges, advantage its opportunities, and promote U.S. leadership and global competitiveness. The NITRD Video and Image Analytics (VIA) Team reports to the AI R&D IWG.

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NAIAC – National AI Advisory Committee

The National AI Advisory Committee (NAIAC) consists of expert leaders from a broad and interdisciplinary range of AI-relevant disciplines from across academia, industry, non-profits and civil society, and Federal laboratories. The NAIAC is tasked with providing an independent assessment of the Initiative and making recommendations to the President and the NAIIO on topics related to AI research and development, ethics, standards, education, technology transfer, commercial application, security, and economic competitiveness.
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NAIAC-SCLE – National AI Advisory Committee’s Subcommittee on Law Enforcement

As directed by the National AI Initiative Act of 2020 (DIVISION E, SEC. 5104e), the National AI Advisory Committee will establish a subcommittee that will consider matters related to the use of AI in law enforcement. This subcommittee will provide advice to the President on topics that include bias, security of data, the adoptability of AI for security or law enforcement, and legal standards that include those that ensure that AI use is consistent with privacy rights, civil rights and civil liberties, and disability rights.
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NAIRRTF – National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force

The National AI Research Resource Task Force (“Task Force”) is a multi-stakeholder team charged with investigating the feasibility of a National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR), and proposing a roadmap detailing how to establish and sustain the NAIRR. The NAIRR is envisioned as a shared computing and data infrastructure that provides AI researchers with access to compute resources and high quality data, along with appropriate educational tools and user support. The Task Force will produce a road map addressing how to establish and sustain the NAIRR, including topics such as ownership and administration of the resource; governance mechanisms; secured access control; data engineering; the provision of curated data sets; educational tools and services; a user interface portal; implications for privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties; and related topics.
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Key Agencies

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