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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

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 9 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus variant surveillance varies widely by state — Omicron cases confirmed in 5 U.S. states America probably won't lead the effort to understand Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters — Moderna loses patent battles tied to COVID vaccine — Pfizer could have vaccine data for children under five by end of 2021, CEO says.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate — Omicron travel bans are sign of what's to come.
  4. World: WHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming — Germany approves new restrictions for unvaccinated people.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Updated 14 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Prosecutors charge parents of Michigan school shooting suspect

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The parents of a 15-year-old accused of killing four students and wounding seven other people at a Michigan high school have been charged with four counts of involuntary manslaughter, according to court documents.

The latest: Lawyers for James and Jennifer Crumbley told the Detroit News they are "returning to the area to be arraigned," after law enforcement officials announced a search for the Crumbleys had been initiated.