Cloud Giants Sign On to 'Democratizing the Future of AI R&D'

Many tech titans including the "Big 3" cloud giants have signed on to a U.S. government initiative to "strengthen and democratize access to critical resources necessary to power responsible AI discovery and innovation."

Spearheaded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), it's called the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) pilot.

"Partnering with 10 other federal agencies as well as 25 private sector, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, the NAIRR pilot will provide access to advanced computing, datasets, models, software, training and user support to U.S.-based researchers and educators," said a Jan 24 news release from the NSF. "By connecting researchers and educators with the resources needed to support their work, the NAIRR pilot will power innovative AI research and, as it continues to grow, inform the design of the full NAIRR ecosystem. This pilot is a proof of concept to ignite the level of investment needed to realize the full NAIRR vision."

Signatories include a "who's who" list of industry heavyweights, including Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft, Google, OpenAI, Meta, IBM and many more.

The NSF listed four focus areas of the effort:

  • NAIRR Open will enable open AI research through access to diverse AI resources via the NAIRR Pilot Portal and coordinated allocations.
  • NAIRR Secure, co-led by NIH (National Institutes of Health ) and DOE (U.S. Department of Energy), will enable AI research requiring privacy and security-preserving resources and will assemble exemplar privacy preserving resources.
  • NAIRR Software will facilitate and investigate inter-operable use of AI software, platforms, tools and services for NAIRR pilot resources.
  • NAIRR Classroom will reach new communities through education, training, user support and outreach.
The National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) Pilot
[Click on image for larger view.] The National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) Pilot (source: NAAIR).

A pilot portal through which researchers can find and apply to access NAIRR pilot resources indicates that one of the goals is to advance "trustworthy AI," which addresses an executive order by President Joe Biden issued last fall (see "Biden Signs Executive Order on AI Safety").

Today's NSF announcement takes note of that.

"The launch meets a goal outlined in Executive Order 14110, signed by President Joe Biden in October 2023, directing NSF to launch a pilot for NAIRR within 90 days," the release said. "As the pilot expedites the proof of concept, future investments in NAIRR will democratize access to AI innovation and support critical work advancing the development of trustworthy AI."

Advancing trustworthy AI was also a goal of a group of scientists that last year recommended that the U.S. government set up a database to track harmful "AI incidents" in order to mitigate future risks (see "Scientists Seek Government Database to Track Harm from Rising 'AI Incidents'"). One of the recommendations of the group was: "The National Science Foundation (NSF) should increase its funding for 'trustworthy AI' R&D."

Going forward, the NSF said more proposals from the research community will be solicited sometime this spring. The NSF said that will provide "a mechanism for researchers to apply for access to the full suite of NAIRR pilot resources contributed by pilot partners."

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.


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