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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

In a move aimed squarely at China's swift rise in artificial intelligence, President Trump plans to sign an executive order Monday to strengthen the U.S.'s global position in AI competition.

Why it matters: Two years ago, Beijing launched a mammoth effort to turn China into a global torchbearer for emerging technologies. Trump's new order appears to be the beginnings of an American response — but it's light on details and carries no resources to back it up.

What's happening: White House officials shared a summary of the order on Sunday but haven't yet released a final text.

Between the lines: The American AI Initiative, as the new strategy is named, is unlikely to call out China directly. Administration officials skirted reporters' questions about China during a Sunday press conference.

  • But there's little doubt among experts that the administration is responding to Beijing's unrelenting push to fund Chinese AI research, encourage its implementation, and export AI tools.
  • "This executive order is about ensuring continued America leadership in AI, which includes ensuring AI technologies reflect American values, policies, and priorities," an administration official told Axios.

Details: Among the goals of the initiative are boosting investment in AI research, setting standards for AI systems developed in and out of government, training an AI-competent workforce, and involving allies in new strategies.

  • "It is encouraging to see the White House take action on AI at a time when competition in these strategic technologies is clearly intensifying," says Elsa Kania, an adjunct senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security. "China's ambitions to lead the world in AI present a direct and credible challenge to American leadership in innovation."
  • The plan "certainly begins to address criticism about the administration lacking an AI strategy," says Lauren Bedula, vice president of consulting firm Beacon Global Strategies.

But, but, but: It's not clear yet how much muscle the administration intends to put behind its words.

  • The new initiative appears to do little more than send a strong signal to the federal government that AI is a prime concern.
  • For example, the administration said it would "prioritize" AI research funding, but did not announce any new resources for AI development, an area in which the U.S. lags significantly behind China.

The coming executive order is "significant," says Wendy R. Anderson, general manager for defense and national security at SparkCognition, an AI company — but it's thin on details.

  • "If there's no implementation plan behind the EO — with details, deadlines, and funding — then it may be worse than no EO at all," Anderson, who was previously chief of staff to Defense Secretary Ash Carter, tells Axios.
  • The strategy to beat is China's, which sets out clear goals and deadlines, pursues them at every level of government, and has a concrete plan for funding them.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
17 mins ago - Science

Blue Origin auctions off a trip to the edge of space for $28 million

A test dummy flies aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard. Photo: Blue Origin

A seat aboard Blue Origin’s first crewed flight to suborbital space fetched $28 million during a live auction on Saturday.

Why it matters: While the market for suborbital tourist flights to space may not be huge, experts say it's an important, public-facing part of the space industry that could popularize it as more people start flying.

2 hours ago - World

Biden "definitely" brings U.S. back into "club," Macron says at G7 summit

France's President Emmanuel Macron greets President Biden before a bilateral meeting during the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall on June 12. Photo: Ludovic MARIN / AFP via Getty Images

U.S. President Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron were all smiles and handshakes during their first formal, in-person meeting on Saturday, with Macron telling pool reporters "it's great to have the U.S. president part of the club."

Why it matters: Biden has made rebuilding the United States' global leadership central to his foreign policy, frequently touting, "America is back."

More than a dozen injured in downtown Austin shooting

Police tape in Austin, Texas in 2018. Photo: y Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

A shooting in a busy part of downtown Austin, Texas, early Saturday injured at least 13 people, including two who are in critical condition.

The state of play: Gunfire erupted around 1:30 a.m. along 6th Street, a popular area with bars and restaurants. The suspected shooter remains at large, Austin police said. "It is unknown if there is one, or multiple suspects involved," they noted, adding the shooting appears to be an isolated incident.