The U.S. government’s CTO and CIO on Tuesday joined other key tech decision makers, lawmakers and industry leaders at the start of the two-day GPU Technology Conference in Washington, D.C.
U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios gave the conference’s policy day keynote on how the federal government is supporting U.S. AI leadership. And Federal CIO Suzette Kent led a panel of civilian agency leaders explaining how they’re using AI.
Another highlight: a panel on national AI strategy featuring Lynne Parker assistant director for AI with the White House Office of Science and Technology and National Security AI Commissioner Jason Matheny.
The talks were among the more than 160 sessions — led by a cross-section of Washington leaders from government and industry — that have drawn more than 3,500 registered attendees to downtown DC this week.
GTC DC — hosted by NVIDIA and its partners, including Booz Allen Hamilton, Dell, IBM, Lockheed Martin and others — has quickly become the capital’s largest AI event. And it’s research, not rhetoric, attendees will tell you, that makes DC an AI accelerator like no other.
The conference is packed with representatives from more than a score of federal agencies — among them the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA and the National Institutes of Health — together able to marshal scientific efforts on a scale far beyond that of anywhere else in the world.
Putting AI to Work
The conference opened with a keynote from Ian Buck, NVIDIA’s vice president for accelerated computing.
Buck — known for creating the CUDA computing platform that puts GPUs to work powering everything from supercomputing to next-generation AI — detailed the broad range of AI tools NVIDIA makes available to help organizations advance their work.
“The challenge is how do we take AI from innovation to actually applying AI,” Buck said during his keynote address Tuesday morning. “Our challenge, NVIDIA’s challenge and my challenge is ‘How can I bring AI to industries and activate it?’”
Buck then joined Kratsios for a discussion about how the U.S. government — which has a decades-long history of supporting key technology advances — is working to extend U.S. technology leadership in the AI age.
“We fundamentally believe that AI is something that’s going to touch every industry in the United States,” Kratsios said. “We view artificial intelligence as a tool that can empower workers to do their jobs better, safer, faster and more effectively.”
Kratsios’s points were buttressed by the speakers on the national AI strategy panel — which included Parker and Matheny — discussing the progress of the U.S. government’s national AI strategy.
They touched on the federal government’s ongoing investment in R&D, obtaining and training the highest quality talent, and implementation of AI across the federal government.
As part of that, Parker, invited listeners to participate in the 30-day public comment period in following the draft release of draft guidance on facilitating industry AI adoption from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Kent who is leading federal AI adoption efforts, participated in a discussion about advancing AI adoption across the federal government, as part of a panel of civilian agency leaders.
“We’re using these AI capabilities to act faster,” Kent said. “In the areas where we’re keeping citizens safe, whether it’s reacting to weather or a problem caused by humans — the speed at which we help is increasing.”
Wrapping up the day, Moira Bergin, the House Committee on Homeland Security’s subcommittee director for cybersecurity and infrastructure protection, joined a discussion of how Congress and the administration are addressing new AI cybersecurity capabilities.
Bergin joined Coleman Mehta, senior director of U.S. policy at Palo Alto Networks; Daniel Kroese, associate director of the national risk management center at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; and Joshua Patterson, general manager of data science at NVIDIA.
Bergin said she’s “excited” about the prospects for AI after what she described as a decade of underinvestment in R&D.
“There’s a lot of demystification that needs to happen about what AI actually is, what it’s capabilities are now and what its capabilities will be later,” Bergin said.
Scores more discussions took place throughout the conference, including packed discussions discussions policies to speed adoption of AI in healthcare and building an inclusive AI workforce across the country.
Underscoring the role AI can play for good, speakers from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Artificial Intelligence Center will discuss how they’re harnessing AI to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Expect their discussion — of how they harnessed airborne and satellite imagery data after Hurricane Florence hit North and South Carolina in 2018 — to point the way to more groundbreaking AI feats to come.