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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Artificial intelligence experts at Stanford University are calling for the creation of a task force to establish a National Research Cloud to aid American AI research.

Why it matters: Government support for basic science helped create the post-war American technological colossus. But the unique resource needs of advanced AI research demand a new approach to ensure the field isn't dominated by a few large, rich companies.

The research used to train advanced AI requires a great deal of two things: computational power and data.

  • Google needed nearly $1.5 million in computational cycles to train its Meena chatbot announced earlier this year, while Facebook is able to tap its enormous user-generated dataset for its own AI research. It's impossible for most academic AI researchers to access anywhere near that much computational power or raw data.
  • To open up AI research to a wider group of players, experts at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence want to create a public-private task force that will build what they call a National Research Cloud.

How it works: The National Research Cloud would seek to even the playing field by providing academic researchers affordable access to high-powered computational resources as well as access to datasets held in government agencies like Medicare and the VA.

  • "If you're at a college in a state like Kansas, there's no way for you to do this research now," says John Etchemendy, the co-director of the Stanford center. "But if we have a real national push to provide that compute and data, in a privacy protective way, it would benefit society at large."

The bottom line: The only way to ensure the boons of AI research are spread widely is to eliminate the barriers to doing that work.

Editor's note: John Etchemendy was mistakenly quoted as referring to Kansas State. The quote has been corrected.

Go deeper

NRA files for bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for voluntary bankruptcy as part of a restructuring plan.

Driving the news: The gun rights group said it would reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment." Last year, New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.

A new Washington

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Image

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the city should expect a "new normal" for security — even after President-elect Biden's inauguration.

The state of play: Inaugurations are usually a point of celebration in D.C., but over 20,000 troops are now patrolling Washington streets in an unprecedented preparation for Biden's swearing-in on Jan. 20.