U.S. Government CTO, CIO Among Leaders Flocking to GTC DC
The U.S. government’s CTO and CIO on Tuesday joined other key tech decision makers, lawmakers, and industry leaders at the start of the two-day GPU Technology Conference in Washington D.C.
Federal CIO Suzette Kent led a panel of civilian agency leaders explaining how they’re using AI. Moments later, U.S. CTO Michael Kratsios led a discussion of how the federal government is supporting U.S. AI leadership.
And Moira Bergin, the House Committee on Homeland Security’s subcommittee director for cybersecurity and infrastructure protection, joined a discussion of how Congress and the administration are addressing new AI cybersecurity capabilities.
The talks were among the more than 160 sessions — led by a cross-section of Washington leaders from government and industry — that have drawn more than 3,500 to downtown D.C. this week.
GTC DC — hosted by NVIDIA and its partners, including Booz Allen Hamilton, Dell, IBM, Lockheed Martin and others — has quickly become the capital’s largest AI event. And it’s research, not rhetoric, attendees will tell you, that makes DC an AI accelerator like no other.
The conference is packed with representatives from more than a score of federal agencies — among them the U.S. Department of Energy, NASA, and the National Institutes of Health — together able to marshal scientific efforts on a scale far beyond that of anywhere else in the world.
Putting AI to Work
The conference opened with a keynote from Ian Buck, NVIDIA’s vice president for accelerated computing.
Buck — known for creating the CUDA computing platform that puts GPUs to work powering everything from supercomputing to next-generation AI — detailed the broad range of AI tools NVIDIA makes available to help organizations advance their work.
“The challenge is how do we take AI from innovation to actually applying AI,” Buck said during his keynote address Wednesday morning. “Our challenge, NVIDIA’s challenge, and my challenge is ‘How can I bring AI to industries and activate it?’”
Buck’s message was buttressed by Kent, who led a panel of civilian agency leaders discussing how they’re using AI to improve government services.
“We’re using these AI capabilities to act faster,” Kent said. “In the areas where we’re keeping citizens safe, whether it’s reacting to weather or a problem caused by humans — the speed at which we help is increasing.”
Meanwhile, Kratsios led a discussion about how the U.S government — which has a decades long history of supporting key technology advances — is working to extend U.S. technology leadership in the AI age.
“We fundamentally believe that AI is something that’s going to touch every industry in the United States,” Kratsios said. “We view artificial intelligence as a tool that can empower workers to do their jobs better, safer, faster, and more effectively.”
Wrapping up the day, the House’s Bergin joined Coleman Mehta, senior director of U.S. policy at Palo Alto Networks; Daniel Kroese, associate director of the national risk management center at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency; and Joshua Patterson, GM of data science at NVIDIA.
In a panel moderated by NVIDIA’s Iain Cunningham, VP of intellectual property and cybersecurity, the four spoke about the new AI capabilities, potential countermeasures, and preparations being made by the administration and Congress.
Bergin said she’s “excited” about the prospects for AI after what she described as a decade of underinvestment in R&D.
“There’s a lot of demystification that needs to happen about what AI actually is, what it’s capabilities are now, and what its capabilities will be later,” Bergin said.
Scores more discussions are slated through Wednesday afternoon.
Underscoring the role AI can play for good, speakers from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and the Joint AI Center will discuss how they’re harnessing AI to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.
Expect their discussion — of how they harnessed airborne and satellite imagery data after Hurricane Florence hit North and South Carolina in 2018 — to point the way to more groundbreaking AI feats to come.
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