Better late than never.
President Trump yesterday signed an executive order creating the “American AI Initiative,” to guide Artificial Intelligence development in the U.S. The initiative is intended to direct federal funding toward AI research, call for the creation of international standards, and encourage retraining workers. So far, however, it includes no new funding, no timelines, and few details.
“Americans have profited tremendously from being the early developers and international leaders in AI,” reads the White House press release. “However, as the pace of AI innovation increases around the world, we cannot sit idly by and presume that our leadership is guaranteed.”
True enough. The White House action reflects fears that China is gaining ground through a concerted national strategy, massive government funding, and much looser policies around data use. More than any other recent technology, this one promises to have profound effects on business, society and national security. So count this as a step in the right direction… but not nearly big enough.
Separately, AI will be prominent at Fortune’s annual Brainstorm Tech conference, in Aspen, Colo., July 15-17. My colleague Adam Lashinsky recently previewed the event in Data Sheet; you can read his post here. Among the committed speakers: Walmart CEO Doug McMillon; Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, founders of the mobile video platform Quibi; Ynon Kreiz, CEO of Mattel, as well as his predecessor in that job, Margo Georgiadis, now CEO of Ancestry.com; Patrick Spence, CEO of Sonos; and Lior Ron, founder of the controversial self-driving trucking firm Otto and current chief of Uber Freight.
The event is invitation only, but if you are interested in attending, shoot me a note, or apply here. News below.
U.S. lawmakers struck an “agreement in principle” to avoid a government shutdown after Friday. The Democrats dropped their call for new limits on ICE detentions within the U.S., but they’d get limits on ICE detention beds, and President Trump would get less than a quarter of the funding he wanted for his wall. Now all that needs to happen is for the deal—which Trump’s right-wing media advisors oppose—to be turned into legislation and signed by the president. Washington Post
Nissan lowered its full-year operating profit forecast from $4.9 billion to $4.1 billion, in its first results since the arrest of former chair Carlos Ghosn. The last quarter of 2018 was actually decent for Nissan, but the first three not so much—sales then fell by 2.1% thanks to poor performance in North America and Europe. Nissan also booked $84 million in charges relating to Ghosn’s allegedly under-reported compensation. BBC
President Trump would still like to meet President Xi to end the U.S.-China trade war, Trump’s advisors say. Negotiators meet this week in Beijing. Will there be a deal in time to meet the March 1 deadline? Some aides reportedly say it’s more likely that the deadline will be extended. Bloomberg
George Soros warns that the EU will “go the way of the Soviet Union in 1991” unless its people “wake up.” “In a long and eventful life, I have witnessed many periods of what I call radical disequilibrium. We are living in such a period today,” the financier wrote. “The next inflection point will be the elections for the European Parliament in May 2019. Unfortunately, anti-European forces will enjoy a competitive advantage in the balloting.” MarketWatch
Around the Water Cooler
Chinese venture capital seems to have fallen off a cliff. January’s deals and deal value fell over 60% year-on-year, with funding recipients tending to be more early-stage and in business services rather than the consumer sector. Alibaba Group’s executive vice chairman, Joe Tsai: “Entrepreneurs [in China] had it too easy raising gigantic billion-dollar rounds of capital and multibillions in valuation.” South China Morning Post
The U.S. is maintaining pressure on its allies to avoid using Huawei equipment. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said deploying the kit would complicate partnerships with the U.S. The comments, made in Budapest, were particularly directed at Hungary and Poland. Hungary is friendlier with China than the U.S. would like, and Poland is reportedly considering Huawei’s future in the country after an employee was arrested over spying allegations. Reuters
Public Investment Corporation
Africa’s biggest asset manager, South Africa’s Public Investment Corporation, is about to get a new board as it deals with allegations over corruption in its investments. The PIC manages the pensions of millions of state employees, controls more than a tenth of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, and has significant stakes in Naspers and Anglo American. Financial Times
In this week’s blackface scandal, shoes from the line of singer Katy Perry have been pulled from retailers such as Walmart and Dillards. They were black, with a big red mouth… you remember last week’s Gucci scandal; you know the deal. Maybe clothing designers will stop doing this now? Fortune