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An Enigma codebreaker like the one developed by Alan Turing. Photo: Universal History Archive/UIG/Getty

Seeking to play in a global technology race dominated by the U.S. and China, the U.K. says it will pay for about 1,200 students to earn AI master's and PhDs in its universities, and fund the salaries of 3 to 5 more to join the nation's top AI lab.

The big picture: Given the paucity of AI talent, 1,200 is a highly ambitious target, a number that, if fully realized, could go far toward making the U.K. competitive in the global race.

  • The U.K.'s top universities and several high-profile companies have kept it in the running alongside the U.S. and China. But many U.K.-trained researchers end up working for American tech giants, such as Google's DeepMind.
  • "Well known Big Tech companies have been paying high salaries to attract people out of academia," says Adrian Weller, director of the AI program at the Alan Turing Institute, the U.K.'s national institute for data science and AI. "This is an attempt to redress the balance."

By the numbers:

  • The U.K. government says it will pay up to £110 million — about $144 million — for the training programs, and that private companies will chip in millions more.
  • The money will fund the education of 1,000 PhD students, and up to 200 master's students.
  • The Turing Institute will pay salaries of up to $114,000 for top academic researchers. This is a far cry from the hundreds of thousands in annual salary paid by big companies, and slightly lower than tenured faculty jobs in academia.

Go deeper: Today's announcement is part of the U.K.'s national AI plan, announced last year, which includes the equivalent of $1.3 billion in funding.

Go deeper

Scoop: Border officials project 13,000 child migrants in May

The "El Chaparral" border crossing at Tijuana. Photo: Stringer/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

A Customs and Border Protection staffer told top administration officials Thursday the agency is projecting a peak of 13,000 unaccompanied children crossing the border in May, sources directly familiar with the discussion told Axios.

Why it matters: That projection would exceed the height of the 2019 crisis, which led to the infamous "kids-in-cages" disaster. It also underscores a rapidly escalating crisis for the Biden administration.

4 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Senate parliamentarian rules $15 minimum wage cannot be included in relief package

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Thursday that the provision to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour cannot be included in the broader $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

Why it matters: It's now very likely that any increase in the minimum wage will need bipartisan support, as the provision cannot be passed with the simple Senate majority that Democrats are aiming to use for President Biden's rescue bill.