Artificial Intelligence

What is the National AI Research Resource and what can it teach the world about next generation innovation?

The US's new National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) aims to provide a shared computing and data infrastructure.

The US's new National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) aims to provide a shared computing and data infrastructure. Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

Joseph Wehbe
Chief Artificial Intelligence Ecosystem Builder, DAIMLAS
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  • The US's new National AI Research Resource aims to provide a shared computing and data infrastructure.
  • The AI hub is intended to democratize access and help to fuel research and development.
  • Lessons learned in the US can support global AI innovation across the public and private sectors.

On 24 January 2023, the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR) task force shared a report with President Biden and Congress, Strengthening and Democratizing the US Artificial Intelligence Innovation Ecosystem. The report provides plans to build out US data and computational infrastructure for the advancement of AI research and development.

It expands on the vision of the NAIRR and details how participation in AI R&D across the US democratizes access to the resources essential for American students, researchers, and practitioners to boost innovation across all sectors. Building on future and existing investments by the Federal government, it includes considerations for civil rights, civil liberties, privacy, and promotes diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion.

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The NAIRR aims to drive scientific discovery and economic activity across a broad spectrum of sectors. While there are rapid advancements in the field of AI R&D in the US, access to data and computational resources that fuel the cutting-edge technology is limited to leading universities, large scale technology companies, and venture backed startups.

The US government has realized the potential of AI to solve real societal problems that bridge the access divide and emerge an AI ecosystem that works for every American.

So, what can this US research hub teach the rest of the world about AI innovation?

What is the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR)?

The NAIRR is a platform that will transform the future of US local AI ecosystems by providing compute and storage, software and testing tools, and data resources to local stakeholders to achieve their goals via a portal. It is the consensus of a consultative process that engaged leading academics, independent experts and contributors.

What is its purpose of the NAIRR?

The purpose is to create pathways for stakeholders (NAIRR users) in local US regions to achieve their AI goals with the objective of democratizing and strengthening the US AI innovation ecosystem to spur innovation, increase diversity, advance trustworthy AI, and improve capacity. The success of which is based on the successful engagement of the NAIRR constituents in civil society, industry, academia, and government.

What makes the NAIRR unique?

The barrier to achieve AI goals is really high. At the same time, the barriers can’t be lowered because they remove the educational merit. The NAIRR is unique in that it aims to redesign the entry barrier for stakeholders. The NAIRR user base serves students learning about AI, AI researchers, and educators incorporating AI tools and training resources into learning. The opportunity for global AI corridors to emerge to partner with US private sector and the public exist in abundance if you can identify the opportunities to engage the AI R&D community.

Without a hub like the NAIRR, small businesses face the risk of not advancing foundational, translational, or use-inspired AI R&D.
Without a hub like the NAIRR, small businesses face the risk of not advancing foundational, translational, or use-inspired AI R&D.

What possibilities could this open up for AI?

This could accelerate AI from lab to industry, promote cross-industry partnerships, identify market drive R&D challenges, and coordinate government AI research with academia. It will easily make publicly accessible curated catalogues of AI datasets, testbeds, educational resources, and relevant metadata serving the community.

What is the risk of not having a hub like this?

There is a tremendous gap in AI being a catalyst for research and development and economic impact in local US hubs. Without a hub like the NAIRR, small businesses face the risk of not advancing foundational, translational, or use-inspired AI R&D. More importantly, the talent working on AI will not be incentivized to work in academia, small business but be attracted to large tech firms.

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How will this incentivize new partnerships and business models?

Ultimately, but with proper education, this will incentivize government stakeholders to build local data policies, develop regional or local AI policies, identify AI opportunities in their regions that spur investment, talent, and grow their knowledge-economy. If a Governor, Senator, Congress Woman, Mayor, Economic Development Officer, or Councilor, understands the economic impact of AI and how it can attract partnerships in their constituency they are heavily incentivized to leverage NAIRR.

How could AI’s development be different in 10 years with this in place?

We are at a tipping point in AI. The world now understands the benefits of generative AI that translate into business value. So, if we believe that the technology and algorithms are now commoditized then the most important remaining factor is the people. AI is about the people, the talent who builds it, not just consumers of AI. In 10 years, building the next generation of AI talent will be different. We must start now to build this talent to be able to populate the local AI ecosystems. While providing people with the AI resources is critical, we need to empower learners at the earliest stages to study about AI. Without this talent, the NAIRR will be useless.

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