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National Initiative Aims to Democratize AI Research Access

The National AI Research Resource task force is developing a roadmap to expand cyber infrastructure for AI R&D.

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image of Manish Parashar, Director, Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure, National Science Foundation (top left), Lynne Parker, Director of the National AI Initiative Office, OSTP, The White House (top right) and Amy Kluber, Editor-in-Chief, GovCIO Media & Research during GovCIO Media & Research's AI Gov: Data virtual event on June 16, 2022.
Photo Credit: GovCIO Media & Research

The National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) task force recently made recommendations to democratize access to AI R&D and advance responsible and trustworthy AI technologies. The task force’s upcoming final report will lay out a roadmap for expanding the national cyber infrastructure for AI.

“AI is transforming the world,” said Lynne Parker, Director of the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office, at Thursday’s AI Gov: Data event hosted by GovCIO Media & Research. “At the same time, it does give rise to new challenges that necessitate further study. So, to realize the promise of AI and responsibly manage those new challenges, we have to expand the ability of our research community to pursue those cutting-edge AI research challenges and make the pathways to do so more equitable.”

AI research currently requires access to large amounts of computational power and data, resources that are often limited to large technology companies and well-funded universities.

“This resource divide has the potential to adversely skew our AI research ecosystem, and in the process threaten our nation’s ability to cultivate an AI research community and workforce that reflects our rich diversity and harness AI in a manner that serves everyone in the nation,” Parker said.

The NAIRR seeks to lower barriers to entry so more Americans can become involved in AI research.

“The strategic objective for establishing a NAIRR would be to strengthen and democratize the US AI innovation ecosystem in a way that protects privacy, civil rights and civil liberties,” Parker said. “And to achieve that objective, the NAIRR and its governance processes will be designed to do four main things. Number one, spur innovation; number two, increase diversity of talent; three, improve capacity, and then four, advance trustworthy AI.”

The NAIRR will provide a broadly accessible collection of resources for AI research, including computational infrastructure, public and private sector data and testbeds. These resources will be available through an intuitive user interface alongside educational tools designed to provide user support.

The interim report includes funding recommendations for addressing diversity, equity and inclusion; creating easy on-ramps to access NAIRR resources and public-private partnerships to coordinate a network of trusted data and compute resources.

“These recommendations really fundamentally address how we can truly democratize access and the ability to contribute to AI R&D,” said Manish Parashar, Director of the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure at the National Science Foundation.

Parker said some elements of the NAIRR plan will require advances in cyber infrastructure, and that the final report will include a detailed roadmap for spinning up the NAIRR and bringing together AI resources. The final report is anticipated to be released by the end of this year.

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