Microsoft, Google and Others Join US AI Research Programme

The United States (US) Engages Tech Companies in AI Ethical Advancement, via a Pilot Programme to Democratise Access to Safe Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The US is further committing itself to responsible AI.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced this week (January 2024) that it is teaming up with some of the leading technology companies in AI to launch the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) pilot programme.

A wide range of businesses and non-profit organisations have joined the programme, including Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, Intel, Meta, Anthropic, Hugging Face, NVIDIA and OpenAI, among others.

This news comes after the US government imposed regulations on technology companies to share their data. It requires AI developers to share safety results with the government, placing the country at the forefront of the global AI governance debate.

US aiming to lead in AI innovation race

NSF says that the new NAIRR programme is designed to create a national resource for researchers and educators to access high-powered AI technologies. The end goal is to ensure that the US stays ahead in the global AI race, in addition to sparking a wider conversation about AI ethics.

Technology giants have already voluntarily partnered to champion responsible AI systems and ensure safe development - particularly via the Frontier Model Forum. Prior to the announcement from the White House, their goals were to advance AI safety research to promote responsible development of frontier models, minimise risks and enable independent, standardised evaluations of capabilities and safety.

With this in mind, NAIRR will reportedly function as a shared national infrastructure that will provide communities across the country with the hardware, models, and resources needed to advance the AI ecosystem.

Collaboration is at the heart of this programme, aiming to bring together academia, industry, non-profit and government sectors. Partnering in this way is designed to lead to the development of commercially viable AI applications and solutions, thereby fostering economic growth by creating new markets and revenue streams.

“Today's announcement makes progress on President Biden's goal to advance responsible AI so that everyone in America can benefit from this powerful technology. The National AI Research Resource pilot will give researchers access to critical data and compute, catalysing action to achieve America's great aspirations," says Arati Prabhakar, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology.

Democratising AI: Supporting communities and SMEs

The NAIRR programme aims to open up AI research via access to diverse AI resources. In addition, its NAIRR Classroom area will aim to reach new communities through education, training, user support and outreach.

AI upskilling is fast becoming a priority in the global business landscape, given that the technology is evolving at such a rapid pace. With AI becoming more integrated into daily business operations, all employees in an organisation must be fully aware of the opportunities that harnessing the technology can offer. 

This is also essential within the evolving cybersecurity landscape, as upskilling is tied in with regulation and governance - employees must also be aware of the risks.

Plenty of the tech giants included in the programme are already beginning work to help new communities better understand and harness AI, ensuring that their technology also benefits everyday people. Companies like Microsoft and OpenAI have recently been conducting work to help businesses, including small and medium enterprises (SMEs), capitalise on AI.

Tools like Copilot and ChatGPT are working to help SMEs transform their AI outlook and keep pace in a rapidly changing digital economy. 

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