Biden administration, tech giants partner for AI research program

The National Science Foundation is partnering with tech companies leading on artificial intelligence (AI) and nine other federal agencies to launch a pilot program aimed at creating a shared AI research infrastructure, the government announced Wednesday.

The launch of the pilot program for the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) is part of a directive under the AI executive order President Biden signed at the end of October.

Private companies partnering for the NAIRR pilot program include Amazon Web Services, Anthropic, Google, IBM, Meta, Microsoft, NVIDIA and OpenAI.

Agencies partnering with the National Science Foundation on the pilot include the Department of Energy, NASA, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Patent and Trade Office and the Department of Defense.

“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,” said Katie Antypas, director of the National Science Foundation’s Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure.

For example, through the program an AI professor at a community college could provide resources to their classroom, or a researcher studying extreme weather could have access to NASA data sets and advance new modeling, she said.

The pilot of the program will last for two years, Antypas said.

The program will initially support AI research to advance “safe, secure and trustworthy AI,” and applications of AI to challenges in healthcare and sustainability, according to the National Science Foundation.

Operations will be organized into four focus areas: NAIRR Open, to enable open AI research through access to diverse AI resources; NAIRR Secure, co-led by the NIH and the DOE to enable AI research requiring privacy and security-preserving resources; NAIRR Software, to investigate inter-operable use of AI software; and NAIRR Classroom, to reach communities through education and training.

Researchers can apply for initial access to NAIR resources through a pilot portal online. The program will have a second broader call for proposals in the spring.

In the initial launch this week, the pilot will likely support around 25 to 50 research projects. As more resources are brought online and capabilities are integrated by the spring, the program aims to support about 100 to 400 projects, Antypas said.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.