National AI Research Resource Task Force seeks more ‘diverse’ public responses

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The task force designing a blueprint for a National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource extended the deadline to publicly comment on its work by a month to elicit more diverse responses.

A few expected respondents asked for more time, citing the depth of questions in the request for information (RFI) and summer vacation conflicts. So the deadline was moved to Oct. 1, according to a Federal Register notice posted Wednesday.

The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act directed the task force to create a roadmap for a sustainable resource that equitably meets the computational and privacy-preserving data needs of AI researchers.

“Given that we want to hear from as many folks as possible we’d really like a broad and diverse set of perspectives among the responses we felt it best to extend the RFI response date by a month,” Erwin Gianchandani, who co-chairs the task force as the National Science Foundation‘s representative, told FedScoop. “We believe that timeline will maximize responses while still allowing us to digest the responses and use them to inform the task force’s discussions and deliberations.”

The NAIRR blueprint is expected to outline campus, cloud, high-performance and supercomputing assets; data and data governance; educational tools and services; user interfaces; and privacy all while ensuring researcher access regardless of gender, background, expertise or any other demographic.

By giving academics and startups, in particular, more time to respond to the RFI, the task force is ensuring that the diverse array of researchers it wants using NAIRR inform that blueprint.

“It’s not really about the big tech companies that already have lots of computational infrastructure and data,” said Lynne Parker, the other co-chair and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy representative. “I think it’s fairly easy to agree that this resource is not intended for them, even though they may indeed have some great ideas and are absolutely willing to engage to help in the design of a good resource.”

Google and IBM are still two of the four companies representing industry on the task force, along with four universities and four agencies that also include the Department of Energy and National Institute for Standards and Technology.

The task force held its first of four public meetings this year in July, with the next one scheduled for Aug. 30 and four more slated for next year. In between working groups will meet for deeper dives into specific aspects of the NAIRR blueprint.

An interim report is due May 2022 and the blueprint November 2022 to the president and Congress, though it will fall to others to actually implement the plan.

The blueprint must be scalable, easy to use, affordable — as in not cost billions of dollars — and sustainable.

“It [has to be] adaptable, in that we’re able to add new resources or keep the computational resources up to date,” Parker said. “Maybe there’s some new kinds of computation, maybe a new AI chip that we want to provide lots of people access to use and explore their research ideas on, and so we want to be able to have the resource be adaptable and have these new, different kinds of architectures.”

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artificial intelligence (AI), Erwin Gianchandani, Lynne Parker, National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR), National Science Foundation (NSF), Office of Science and Technology Policy