NSF Forms AI Resource Pilot Program With Microsoft, OpenAI and Others


Microsoft, NVIDIA and OpenAI are among the companies working with the U.S. National Science Foundation and other federal agencies on the National AI Research Resource pilot program to connect researchers to AI research infrastructure. The program supports advancements in “safe, secure and trustworthy AI,” according to the announcement from the NSF.

What is the National AI Research Resource?

The National AI Research Resource is a pilot program to provide access to resource-intensive AI training and operation infrastructure like Microsoft Azure and privacy and security resources. The pilot program will “strengthen and democratize access to critical resources necessary to power responsible AI discovery and innovation,” according to the announcement.

“By investing in AI research through the NAIRR pilot, the United States unleashes discovery and impact and bolsters its global competitiveness,” said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan in the announcement.

One of the stated goals of NAIRR is to incubate “commercially viable AI applications and solutions” through industry collaboration.

SEE: Security researchers identified a GPU vulnerability that could let attackers eavesdrop on conversations with generative AI (TechRepublic) 

The NAIRR pilot program focuses on four areas:

  • NAIRR Open will enable various open and diverse AI resources.
  • NAIRR Secure will support AI research that requires privacy and security-preserving resources and is co-led by the National Institutes of Health and U.S. Department of Energy.
  • NAIRR Software will enable and study inter-operable use of AI software, platforms, tools and services used for NAIRR pilot resources.
  • NAIRR Classroom will be an outreach program for communities.

NAIRR is part of the plan outlined in the executive order regarding AI development released by President Joe Biden in October 2023.

Which tech companies are participating in NAIRR?

Some of the tech companies, nonprofits and philanthropic organizations which have provided resources to NAIRR are:

  • AWS
  • Anthropic
  • MD
  • Databrinks
  • Google
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise
  • Hugging Face
  • IBM
  • Intel
  • Meta
  • Microsoft
  • OpenAI

The complete list of 25 organizations can be found here.

The government partners include NASA, DARPA, NIST and the following:

  • National Institutes of Health.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • U.S. Department of Defense.
  • U.S. Department of Energy.
  • U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

How could NAIRR impact businesses or enterprise use of AI?

The leading U.S. AI tech organizations will have a pathway through which to work directly with government-supported researchers and vice versa. This speaks to the government’s interest in working with businesses that use and create AI, and to the adoption of AI in the mainstream. The U.S. is the top ranked nation in AI adoption, according to the Harvard Business Review, followed by China, the U.K., Japan and Germany.

“We hope that by contributing our Data Intelligence Platform to NAIRR, we will enable the next generation of students to create new breakthroughs and build new businesses in AI,” wrote Jonathan Frankle, chief scientist, Databricks, in the announcement.

How to get involved

NAIRR is accepting applications from private sector and nonprofit organizations interested in becoming partners. Interested researchers can apply for access to limited NAIRR resources at the NAIRR pilot portal now. A call for proposals from interested researchers will open in spring 2024 with the full suite of NAIRR resources.


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