A coalition of United States agencies and private partners launched the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) exactly one year after it was proposed.
Launched on Wednesday, the coalition is deploying billions in federal funding to develop public-access tools for aspiring artificial intelligence scientists and engineers.
The National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy and various other organizations have offered resources such as datasets and consultation, while collaborating with applicants within their respective domains of expertise. Additionally, over two dozen major tech companies are contributing in various capacities. The entire initiative boasts an annual budget of USD$800 million for the next three years, pending congressional approval, of course.
NAIRR is the response to the Biden administration’s challenge to big tech to respond to the rapid emergence of AI. The federal government opted to allocate funds to provide a range of resources to any eligible researcher to promote greater democratization of technology and maintain competitiveness against foreign rivals.
The organization has not listed the specific available resources. Instead, they will accept applications and proposals, evaluate them, and allocate resources accordingly. It’s akin to a grant-making process rather than simply providing a free supercomputer.
“The NAIRR pilot is really needed because the resources needed to even begin participating in the ecosystem have become increasingly concentrated and inaccessible to many, many communities that are really essential for developing a healthy and responsible AI ecosystem,” Katie Antypas, NSF’s Director of the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, said.
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There will be four focus areas in the initiative
During the two-year pilot period, there will be four primary focus areas within the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) initiative.
The first is NAIRR Open, which encompasses general access to diverse AI resources, catering to research and projects that do not fit into the specific categories that follow.
Meanwhile, NAIRR Secure is dedicated to AI applications that require privacy and security measures, particularly in fields such as medicine and critical infrastructure. This aspect is led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Energy.
NAIRR Software, the third focus area, concentrates on developing tools, platforms, services, and enhancing interoperability. Lastly, NAIRR Classroom focuses on outreach, education, and training related to AI.