Over 20 organizations have signed on to support the creation of a national AI research cloud. The idea has already received the support of tech companies such as AWS, Google, IBM, and Nvidia, as well as research institutions like Stanford University and Ohio State University.
The AI research cloud would be part of the National AI Research Resource Task Force Act.
National AI Research Resource Task Force Act
It was introduced early in June by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and House Members Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), and Mike Sherrill (D-NJ).
“We cannot take America’s AI leadership for granted. With China focused on toppling the United States’ leadership in AI, we need to redouble our efforts with a sustained commitment to the best and brightest by developing a national research cloud to ensure our technical researchers get the tools they need to succeed,” Sen. Portman, co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Artificial Intelligence Caucus said. “This legislation takes the first steps towards a national research cloud. By democratizing access to computing power, we ensure that any American with computer science talent can pursue their good ideas.”
The new act would bring together technical experts within the fields of academia, government, and industry to develop a plan for how the U.S. can create, deploy, govern, and sustain a national research cloud.
According to the members who introduced the bill, “The widespread support for the National AI Research Resource Task Force Act from our country’s preeminent research universities and leading technology firms demonstrates how critical the legislation is for our country to retain our global lead in AI research. We thank the universities and companies supporting our bill, and we call on Congress to act on this legislation as soon as possible.”
If the cloud was created, it would provide a point for researchers in the United States to gain access to computer power and data sets. These are already accessible to big tech companies like Google, but not yet academia.
Previous Efforts for an AI Research Cloud
The push for a national AI research cloud began last year when leaders from Stanford University and more than 20 other academic institutions drafted a letter to President Trump and Congress in support of one.
Prior to that effort, there were other bills that advocated for a comprehensive U.S. AI strategy that included AI centers and a national AI coordination office.
The Artificial Intelligence Initiative Act, proposed by Senators Portman, Heinrich, and Brian Schatz, pushed for the injection of $2.2 billion into federal research and development for a national AI strategy.
Another effort was put forth when the Computing Community Consortium (CCC) released its 20-year AI research road map. It included ideas like increased data sharing and a national center of excellence.
Dr. Fei-Fei Li and John Etchemendy, co-directors of the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI), have been some of the leading voices on the issue.
Back in March, the pair said that the creation of a national AI research cloud could be “one of the most strategic research investments the federal government has ever made.”
“Data is a first-class citizen of today’s AI research. We should admit that, but it’s not the only thing that defines AI,” Li said. “Rare disease understanding, genetic study of rare disease, drug discovery, treatment management — they are by definition not necessarily data heavy, and AI can play a huge role. Human-centered design, I think about elder care and that kind of nuanced technological help. That’s not necessarily data heavy as well, so I think we need to be very thoughtful about how to use data.”
A full list of support for the National AI Research Resource Task Force Act is below.
- National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence Chairman Eric Schmidt and Vice Chairman Bob Work
- Stanford University
- The Ohio State University
- Princeton University
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Duke University
- Pennsylvania State University
- University of Pennsylvania
- Johns Hopkins University
- Allen Institute for AI
- Amazon Web Services
- Orbital Insight
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