Resources for Research U.S. government launches pilot program to fuel AI innovation with national resources.

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Resources for Research: U.S. government launches pilot program to fuel AI innovation with national resources.

The United States government wants to connect U.S. AI researchers with resources that can help them develop their projects.

What’s new: The National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) announced the first call for proposals in its pilot program, which will accept applications through March 1. Winning proposals can receive processing power, data, software, and training provided by partner organizations. Another round will kick off in the second quarter of 2024. 

How it works: Led by the National Science Foundation, NAIRR aims to support innovative AI research by organizing national compute and other infrastructure to be shared among researchers and educators. The initiative pulls together 10 other federal agencies and 25 partners including heavyweights like Amazon, Google, Intel, and OpenAI; startups like Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Anthropic, EleutherAI, Hugging Face, and Weights & Biases; and hardware companies like AMD, Intel, and Nvidia. 

  • NAIRR is calling for projects that qualify as “safe, secure, and trustworthy AI.” Examples include testing and validating AI systems, reducing bias, improving privacy and security, and aligning AI with social values.
  • The organization includes divisions that focus on open development, privacy and security, interoperation of partner resources, and education and outreach.
  • Proposals will be evaluated based on how well they align with AI safety, security, and trustworthiness; project readiness; technical feasibility; knowledge and experience of their leaders; computing and data requirements; and need for the specific resources provided by the program.
  • Researchers whose projects are accepted in the initial round will gain access to models, datasets, AI toolkits, and training provided by government partners including the Department of Defense, NASA, NOAA, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Researchers may receive time on supercomputers hosted by university and government laboratories.
  • Future programs will tap private resources. Microsoft pledged $20 million in Azure computing credits and access to OpenAI models. Nvidia promised $30 million worth of access to its DGX Cloud infrastructure and enterprise software.

Behind the news: Policymakers planned to organize a national infrastructure for AI research after calls from prominent researchers. NAIRR is now open thanks to an executive order issued by the White House in October.

Why it matters: AI has potential to affect all corners of society yet, generally, only wealthy companies can bear the high costs of building and running large machine learning models. Partnership between government, industry, and academia can pool AI resources to cultivate talent throughout society and support important projects that may not serve a corporate agenda. 

We’re thinking: This is an exciting bid to proliferate AI research. Sharing the fruits of such research via open publications and open source software will bring the technology’s benefits to a wider range of people.


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