AI a Priority for US Government, Federal CIO Suzette Kent Says

by Brian Caulfield

There’s nothing like a little Van Halen in the morning.

In a rousing talk at the Washington edition of our GPU Technology Conference Wednesday — our fourth such show in just over a month — U.S. Chief Information Officer Suzette Kent presented a video outlining a far-reaching vision of IT modernization accompanied by “Right Now,” a signature anthem of one of America’s greatest bands.

“I use that song because there’s a message — right now — because we are not waiting,” Kent said after the video highlighted work being done across the federal government in everything from agriculture to transportation and healthcare to cybersecurity. “Now is the time to seize this opportunity.”

The U.S. federal government — long a leader in AI investment — is engaged in a sweeping effort under Kent to organize the vast quantities of data the government “collects, creates and acquires” to drive everything from healthcare to improvements in our economy.

“AI is a priority for this entire administration, our lawmakers and federal leaders,” Kent said.

And data is key to modern AI. “If we don’t make the right investments in the data side, it’s like we have the fastest plane in the world, but no fuel for that jet,” Kent told an audience of developers, entrepreneurs and federal employees attending GTC DC.

“We’re united on this mission and the ability to capture these capabilities to better serve the American people,” Kent said.

That work isn’t easy, involving “robust” conversations with leaders from a galaxy of federal agencies. At the same time, Kent is working to promulgate strong standards for data privacy and security. She’s also working to help ensure the skills of those working with data across the federal government are at the cutting edge. And all these efforts are also key to America’s cybersecurity efforts.

“This is a topic of national importance,” Kent said. “The U.S. has some of the most valuable data in the world, we have leading tech and compute capabilities, we have to stay the leader in all those areas.”

In addition to Kent, notable speakers at GTC DC include:

  • Heidi King, acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • James Kurose, assistant director for computer and information science and engineering at the National Science Foundation
  • Derek Kan, undersecretary of transportation for policy at the Department of Transportation
  • Elizabeth Jones, acting director for radiology and imaging sciences for the National Institutes of Health
  • Missye Brickell from the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation
  • Bakul Patel, associate center director for digital health at the Food and Drug Administration
  • Melissa Froelich, chief counsel of at the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce

Leaders from the public and private sector will participate in panel discussions to discuss policy issues for:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Autonomy for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief
  • American Leadership in AI Research
  • The Keys to Deploying Self-Driving Cars
  • How AI Can Improve Citizen Services
  • AI for Healthcare
  • Transforming Agriculture with AI