White House Plans to Boost AI, Quantum Funding by 30%

The Trump administration has proposed a spending increase of about 30% in the 2021 nondefense budget for artificial intelligence and quantum information science.

The proposal, released Friday, coincides with competitive pressure from China and other countries that are investing in these emerging technologies.

The proposal includes funding to develop AI research institutes, formed by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Agriculture and other agencies, the administration said. It also includes $25 million in funding for the Energy Department to build an early-stage quantum internet, which uses the principles of quantum mechanics to more securely transmit data.

AI and quantum information science, an area of study that includes quantum-based cryptography, communication and quantum computing, are critical for economic growth and national security, said Michael Kratsios, U.S. chief technology officer.

“We need to make sure we’re winning and leading in the technologies of today…and also in technology that will define our future,” Mr. Kratsios said.

The White House’s fiscal year 2021 budget proposal includes $1.5 billion for AI, up from about $1.12 billion in 2020, and $699 million for quantum information science, up from about $579 million in 2020. The $2.2 billion total funding proposal for 2021 represents about a 30% increase over the $1.7 billion in spending across the two technologies that was appropriated by Congress this year.

Congress must approve the budget proposal.

China is adopting AI at a faster rate than the U.S. and the European Union, possibly because Chinese companies and citizens understand the value of AI, according to a 2019 report released by the Center for Data Innovation, a nonpartisan research institute. Some business leaders have said the U.S. needs to spend more money to maintain a competitive edge in AI.

In February, the White House outlined a plan for annual spending on AI to rise to more than $2 billion between 2020 and 2022, and funding for quantum information science to increase to $860 million between that time frame.

The 2021 funding proposal for the technologies was released Friday as part of an AI and quantum technology research and development report from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The research and development report shows that the Trump administration is on track to meet its commitment of roughly doubling nondefense research and development spending on artificial intelligence and quantum information sciences between 2020 and 2022.

Write to Sara Castellanos at [email protected]

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