In 2014, the president founded a startup in the US White House called the United States Digital Service, with the aim to gather the best technology, design and government talent to help tackle immigration, healthcare, and veteran’s benefits.
For USDS, the MO is to recruit top designers, engineers, product managers, and digital policy experts and then to pair these digital experts with the nation’s leading civil servants.
Below are a few interesting projects around the digital and AI frontier within the government, including hack the pentagon and next generation GPS.
Furthermore, the startup through its inter-departmental partnerships has spawned other new units, such as DOD’s Defense Digital Services, an agency team of USDS.
The call to action came with the 2015 SOTU address, and on its website the USDS invokes a young Steve Jobs and that life can be more than having a family and making a little bit of money.
These government efforts on the digital and AI front to “improve the lives of American citizens” – and the world at large, are part of a strategy to highlight the positive aspects of AI initiatives to the Silicon Valley tech giants after the public relations fallout from Maven and other warfare oriented AI efforts.
In order to compete in the coming battle for AI supremacy (with China and others), it is crucial to attract the top thinkers in the field and encourage them to work with or for the government in a variety of ways, not just with military contracts.
The not-so-subtle Steve Jobs message is just the beginning for the hunt for talent in AI, machine learning, digital and big data analytics. We already see a red hot competition. The new military futures command took a leading financial service tech investor to head their team, hedge funds took AI teams from the CIA, healthcare firms take tech leaders and startups are incorporated in governmental operations and large financial services institutions. Expect more to come as CEOs start to figure out how to really deploy AI and data science into their organizations.