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White House Science Advisors Tout Advances in AI Research

Six months after the AI executive order, National Science Foundation and the White House released key AI research and development updates.

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Terence Tao speaks at a podium in the White House.
Terence Tao, member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, speaks at the White House May 6, 2024. Photo Credit: White House

The White House recognized two new developments to advance artificial intelligence in government: a new report from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) pilot’s first release of computational resources for researchers.

The PCAST report focuses on AI use cases and the importance of trustworthy AI technologies.

The council met with the president in September to discuss the future use of AI’s role in research. Council member Terence Tao noted three factors to consider in order to realize the full potential of AI.

Tao explained that AI technologies should be used in tandem with human scientists, not replacing them. Second, Tao said, scientists need to embrace the culture around creating responsible AI ensuring there is always a human in the loop to check for bias and to mitigate privacy and security errors. Finally, AI infrastructure must be more widely available to the scientific community via open-source models and must come with standards.

The NAIRR pilot, launched in December 2023, released the first set of research resources May 6. According to Tao, the pilot is an important step in building AI infrastructure.

“It will empower researchers by democratizing access to research-quality AI tools. And I believe it also plays a key role in developing a culture of responsible AI use,” Tao said.

NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan said the agency had 90 days to develop NAIRR with the help of 25 non-government partners and 12 federal agencies, including the Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health. It scaled the project and will launch 35 future projects.

“We will work together to make sure that we are going to advance talent and ideas, innovation everywhere across our nation, across the broad socio-economic demographic, across the rich diversity of the nation and the vast geography of automation,” Panchanathan said.

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