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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The White House this morning announced over $1 billion to establish 12 new federal research centers dedicated to AI and quantum sciences.

Why it matters: The two fields are among the most important in emerging technology, and the new initiative will help the U.S. assert its international leadership in an increasingly competitive field that will impact everything from national security to climate change.

Details: The Department of Energy will move up to $625 million over the next five years to five existing national laboratories to create research centers dedicated to quantum science and computing, with an additional $300 million coming from the private sector and academia.

  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) will lead the establishment of seven AI research centers at universities around the country, focused on areas like precision agriculture and forecasting prediction.

What they're saying: "The future of American prosperity and national security will be shaped by how we invest, research, develop and deploy these cutting-edge technologies today," said U.S. chief technology officer Michael Kratsios.

Of note: The new initiative comes on the heels of the establishment last month of three NSF centers dedicated to quantum information science.

  • While AI is better known — and more active in the world today — quantum computing is just as important, promising huge leaps forward in processing power.
  • "This is the most exciting time in computing since the advent of the first computers," says Dario Gil, director of IBM Research, which is among the companies involved in the new quantum science centers.

Go deeper

Nov 19, 2020 - Science

Biden's Day 1 challenges: Trust in science

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The American public's divided trust in science is a foundational crisis that Joe Biden will have to address in order to tackle the other crises awaiting him on Day 1, including a raging pandemic and climate change.

Why it matters: Partisan divides, eroded confidence and an exodus of experts from the federal government could hinder responses to both COVID-19 and climate change.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations were "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 7 hours ago - Science

Volcanic eruption in Tonga caused "significant" damage

This satellite image of the eruption on Jan. 15 taken by Himawari-8, a Japanese weather satellite operated by Japan Meteorological Agency and released by National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT). Photo: NICT via AP

Significant damage has been reported in Tonga following an undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday, which covered the Pacific nation in ash and cut off communication lines.

Driving the news: The eruption triggered tsunami warnings across Tonga's islands and in other regions, including the West Coast of the U.S. and New Zealand, which were later lifted.

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