NSF to Launch Advanced Computing National AI Research Resource Pilot

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January 24, 2024 — Today, the U.S. National Science Foundation and collaborating agencies launched the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) pilot, which the NSF called “a first step towards realizing the vision for a shared research infrastructure that will strengthen and democratize access to critical resources necessary to power responsible AI discovery and innovation.”

Partnering with 10 other federal agencies and 25 private sector, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, the NAIRR pilot will provide access to advanced computing, datasets, models, software, training and user support to U.S.-based researchers and educators. By connecting researchers and educators with the resources needed to support their work, the NAIRR pilot in intended to “power innovative AI research and, as it continues to grow, inform the design of the full NAIRR ecosystem. This pilot is a proof of concept to ignite the level of investment needed to realize the full NAIRR vision,” the NSF said.

Researchers can discover and apply for initial access to NAIRR pilot resources through the NAIRR pilot portal at nairrpilot.org. A second, broader call for proposals from the research community will be released in spring 2024, providing a mechanism for researchers to apply for access to the full suite of NAIRR pilot resources contributed by pilot partners.

The NAIRR pilot welcomes additional private sector and nonprofit partners. Those interested are encouraged to reach out to NSF at nairr_pilot@nsf.gov.

Summit Supercomputer at ORNL

To support NAIRR Secure, DOE will extend operations of Summit, one of the most powerful AI-capable supercomputers at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, which was scheduled to be decommissioned at the end of 2023 and will be extended through October 2024. Through this extension, DOE continues to take accelerated computing to the next level by providing scientists with incredible computing power to solve challenges in energy, artificial intelligence, human health, and other research areas that were previously impractical or impossible. DOE is also expanding its efforts in trustworthy and responsible AI research, and researchers on Summit will also have access to Oak Ridge’s CITADEL framework, a partnership between the lab and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to safely and securely transfer and analyze veterans’ health records at scale that also protects privacy.

DOE will also offer access to the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility’s AI Testbed, a growing collection of some of the world’s most advanced AI accelerators for open scientific research. With advanced capabilities for AI training, inference, and data-intensive tasks for a diverse set of AI workloads, the AI Testbed housed at DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, will enable researchers to explore and accelerate next-generation applications to advance the use of AI for science and discovery.

“The breadth of partners that have come together for this pilot underscores the urgency of developing a National AI Research Resource for the future of AI in America,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. ”By investing in AI research through the NAIRR pilot, the United States unleashes discovery and impact and bolsters its global competitiveness. To continue leading in AI research and development, we must create opportunities across the country to advance AI innovation and strengthen educational opportunities, empowering the nation to shape international standards and igniting economic growth. NSF is proud to lead this effort with our current and future partners.”

“Today’s announcement makes progress on President Biden’s goal to advance responsible AI so that everyone in America can benefit from this powerful technology. The National AI Research Resource pilot will give researchers access to critical data and compute, catalyzing action to achieve America’s great aspirations,” said Arati Prabhakar, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology.

The collaborative nature of the pilot, bringing together academia, industry, nonprofit and government sectors, is intended to promote cross-sector partnerships. Industry collaboration can lead to the development of commercially viable AI applications and solutions, fostering economic growth by creating new markets and revenue streams.

Current government partners include:

  • U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)
  • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH)
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
  • U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)
  • U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)

Current private sector, non-profit and philanthropy partners include:

The NAIRR pilot will initially support AI research to advance safe, secure and trustworthy AI, as well as the application of AI to challenges in healthcare and environmental and infrastructure sustainability. The pilot will also provide infrastructure support to educators to enable training on AI technologies and their responsible approaches.

The pilot’s operations will be organized into four focus areas:

  • NAIRR Open will enable open AI research through access to diverse AI resources via the NAIRR Pilot Portal and coordinated allocations.
  • NAIRR Secure, co-led by NIH and DOE, will enable AI research requiring privacy and security-preserving resources and will assemble exemplar privacy preserving resources.
  • NAIRR Software will facilitate and investigate inter-operable use of AI software, platforms, tools and services for NAIRR pilot resources.
  • NAIRR Classroom will reach new communities through education, training, user support and outreach.

The launch meets a goal outlined in Executive Order 14110, signed by President Joe Biden in October 2023, directing NSF to launch a pilot for NAIRR within 90 days. As the pilot expedites the proof of concept, future investments in NAIRR will democratize access to AI innovation and support critical work advancing the development of trustworthy AI.

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