National Research Cloud
Artificial intelligence requires vast amounts of computing power, data, and expertise to train and deploy the massive machine learning models behind the most advanced research. But access is increasingly out of reach for most colleges and universities. A National Research Cloud (NRC) would provide academic and non-profit researchers with the compute power and government datasets needed for education and research. By democratizing access and equity for all colleges and universities, an NRC has the potential not only to unleash a string of advancements in AI, but to help ensure the U.S. maintains its leadership and competitiveness on the global stage.
Throughout 2020, Stanford HAI led efforts with 22 top computer science universities along with a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers proposing legislation to bring the NRC to fruition. On January 1, 2021, the U.S. Congress authorized the National AI Research Resource Task Force Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021. This law requires that a federal task force be established to study and provide an implementation pathway to create world-class computational resources and robust government datasets for researchers across the country in the form of a National Research Cloud. The task force will issue a final report to the President and Congress next year.
The promise of an NRC is to democratize AI research, education, and innovation, making it accessible to all colleges and universities across the country. Without a National Research Cloud, all but the most elite universities risk losing the ability to conduct meaningful AI research and to adequately educate the next generation of AI researchers.
In late 2019, Stanford HAI co-directors Fei-Fei Li and John Etchemendy were one of the first to issue a call for the U.S. government to create a National Research Cloud (NRC). They envisioned the NRC would be a close partnership between academia, government, industry, and civil society to provide researchers equitable access to high-end computational resources, large-scale government datasets in a secure cloud environment, and necessary expertise to benefit from a NRC. Stanford HAI led efforts with 22 top computer science universities and a bipartisan, bicameral group of lawmakers proposing legislation to bring the NRC to fruition. On January 1, 2021, the U.S. Congress authorized the National AI Research Resource Task Force Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021.
Stanford HAI submitted this response in July 2022 to support the work of the National Science Foundation and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to implement the initial findings and recommendations of the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) Task Force. We concurred with a large majority of recommendations in the interim report that aligned very closely with our white paper and provided a set of feedback, including limiting NAIRR access to researchers at U.S. higher education institutions during the first three years of a pilot run, adopting a dual investment strategy with regard to computing infrastructure, and adopting a tiered model for the NAIRR proposal review and ethics review.
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National Research Cloud in the News
Do we really want Facebook and Amazon to rule AI?
The Hill | November 8, 2021
Eye On A.I. Episode #087
Eye On A.I. | November 7, 2021
Driving AI innovation through a National Research Cloud
GCN | October 12, 2021
America's global leadership in human-centered AI can't come from industry alone
The Hill | July 6, 2021
U.S. Law Sets Stage for Boost to Artificial Intelligence Research
Science | January 19, 2021
Defense Bill Boosts Federal AI Research and Development
Wall Street Journal | January 8, 2021
A public research cloud would stimulate innovation
Financial Times | October 19, 2020
Universities and Tech Giants Back National Cloud Computing Project
The New York Times | June 30, 2020