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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios
After months of pushing China to retreat from its strategy to dominate the technologies of the future, President Trump today ordered U.S. agencies to prioritize keeping the U.S. ahead in the development and deployment of artificial intelligence.
He did not allocate specific sums of money — and it will be expensive to match Chinese spending — but told aides to tally up what it will cost to maintain the lead, and to budget it.
Kaveh reports: Trump's executive order comes amid tense brinkmanship between the U.S. and China, driven by a trade war declared by the U.S.
Simply signaling an all-hands push by the White House on AI is valuable, says Michael Allen, of Beacon Global Strategies and a former member of President George W. Bush’s National Security Council.
The billion-dollar question is how the government's new priorities will be funded.
What the plan does do, however, is tee up civilian agencies to make AI investments, and encourages them to do so.
So far, U.S. funding for AI has been anemic.
These numbers pale in comparison to estimates of Chinese spending on AI. Exact numbers are hard to come by, but just two Chinese cities — Shanghai and Tiajin — have committed to spending about $15 billion each.
At some point in the future, when you order a pizza, you may be surprised at the taste — with odd ingredients added not by the ingenuity of the chef standing behind the counter twirling dough, but by an artificial intelligence program with its own idea of a savory pie.
Axios' Shannon Vavra writes: McCormick, the world’s largest spice company, is working with IBM Research to create new spices that humans might not consider. Among its latest concoctions — the cumin pizza, says Richard Goodwin, principal research scientist at IBM.
Why it matters: AI is starting to change our palate, and not just when it comes to food. As we've previously reported, AI is also introducing novelty and creativity into fashion, art, cocktails and dance.
How it works: The system, which is still in the testing phase, pulls from decades’ worth of data on spices to identify a base formula for a flavor category (such as a BBQ sauce). Then it incorporates new, sometimes surprising ingredients, as well as sales and trend forecasts, to make sure the new flavors perform well. The algorithm can cut spice development time by two-thirds, CNN reports.
Driving the market: "Consumers are expecting ... our products in the food and beverage world these days to be better," says Maria Velissariou, chief science and technology officer at the Institute of Food Technologists. "They need to have nutritional content, they have to be high quality, they have to be accessible, and they have to be affordable."
Photo: Scott Olson/Getty
Federal courts are charging 10 cents for electronic access to one page of public records through the Pacer service.
They're citing data storage costs for the relatively steep price, but the actual cost of retrieving a page is around one-half of one ten-thousandth of a penny, reports NYT's Adam Liptak.
Erica writes: A group of non-profits filed a lawsuit against the courts for systemic overcharging in 2016. The case is pending.
The Maldives sizes up its debts to China (Simon Mundy, Kathrin Hille — FT)
Health insurance is as big as Big Tech (Bob Herman — Axios)
The next wave of unicorns (Erin Griffith — NYT)
Trade war opens commodity floodgates (Akio Okamori, Keitaro Iijima — Nikkei Asian Review)
America isn't building enough new housing (Peter Coy — Bloomberg)
In Chukotka, Russia. Photo: Sylvain Cordier/Gamma-Rapho/Getty
During most winters in Belushya Guba, the polar bears stay safely away. But since December, up to 10 of them have been rummaging through the Russian Arctic town at any one time, foraging through garbage and generally terrifying the locals.