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U.S. may expand biometric and AI benchmarking as national strategy updated


The U.S. has revised its strategy for research and development of artificial intelligence, with an update from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), pointing to NIST’s biometric testing as an example to be followed, and calling for greater emphasis on public-private partnerships and increased collaboration with international allies.

The plan was originally formulated in 2016, and guides funding for federal agencies. The 2019 Update also suggests the U.S. can benefit from federal agencies working more closely together. ‘Precompetitive’ testing suggested as an area the government can take initiative in, with NIST’s FRVT test among examples of how interoperability, quality, and best practices can be encouraged.

VentureBeat reports that a Trump administration spokesperson said in a call with reporters that an assessment of federal investments in AI is currently underway.

“Emphasis is needed on the development of further ML capabilities to interactively and persistently learn, the connection between perception and attention, and the incorporation of learned models into comprehensive reasoning architectures,” the report authors write.

The White House has already moved to widen NIST’s scope and boost federal investment in AI, and speculation has been followed by proposed legislation which could lead to companies from China and other countries being barred from NIST’s FRVT.

China denies strategic threat and denounces ‘zero-sum thinking’

Articles in Chinese State media blaming the U.S. for a using a “manufactured” strategic threat to undermine trade relations have come to a head with a lengthy front-page article in the Communist Party’s official publication, the People’s Daily, The South China Morning Post reports.

The article suggested bad faith on the part of U.S. leadership, and called for cooperation to replace “zero-sum thinking.” It invoked the notion of Thucydides Trap, implying at least trade war, while other media outlets have suggested measures including a list of “unreliable” foreign entities that would be blacklisted in China, according to the report.

China Institute of International Studies Research Fellow Dr. Cui Lei told The Post that the editorials are part of messaging in preparation for the upcoming G20 summit in Japan.

NEC security systems business executive Toshifumi Yoshizaki meanwhile told The Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of a company event that the drive in the U.S. market to avoid Chinese facial recognition technology is a boon to Japanese vendors.

“It’s a huge opportunity – unprecedented,” he told The Journal. “We have to go in now.”

NEC is reported to be about to launch a new facial biometrics and image analytics service in North America.

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