The White House-led National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Resource (NAIRR) Task Force is asking Congress for $2.6 billion to fund its plans to stand up a national research infrastructure that would broaden access to the resources essential to AI research and development (R&D).

In a final report released on Tuesday, the task force estimated the NAIRR – a Federal AI data and research hub – would need $2.6 billion in congressional appropriations over its first six years to reach initial operating capacity.

“The Task Force estimated this budget based on recent costs of advanced computing resources as well as data, training, and software resources,” the report states. “The vision for the NAIRR laid out in this report is designed to meet the national need for increased access to the state-of-the-art resources that fuel AI innovation.”

The bulk of this investment – $2.25 billion – is to fund resources to be made accessible via the NAIRR, through appropriations to multiple Federal agencies. The report goes into further detail about how that investment should be allocated:

  • Resource providers should be brought online every two years with a six-year lifetime so that a new $750 million investment is made every two years to ensure that the NAIRR resources remain state-of-the-art;
  • The non-government operating entity behind the NAIRR would receive about $55-$65 million every year to support the coordination and management of NAIRR activities; and
  • An additional $5 million per year is budgeted for external evaluation of the operating entity and NAIRR performance;

The roadmap for implementing the NAIRR envisioned by the task force “builds on existing Federal investments; designs in protections for privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties; and promotes diversity and equitable access,” the report states.

AI R&D in the United States is advancing rapidly, but opportunities to pursue cutting-edge AI research and new AI applications are often inaccessible to researchers beyond those at well-resourced companies, organizations, and academic institutions. However, according to the task force, a NAIRR would change that by providing AI researchers and students with significantly expanded access to computational resources, high-quality data, educational tools, and user support.

“By creating an equitable cyberinfrastructure for cutting-edge AI that builds on-ramps for participation for a wide range of researchers and communities, the NAIRR could build AI capacity across the nation and support responsible AI research and development, thereby driving innovation and ensuring long-term U.S. competitiveness in this critical technology area,” National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan, said in a statement.

The final report also explains that existing and upcoming Federal AI policy documents will serve as the foundation for the NAIRR’s operations, including the Biden administration’s Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights and the upcoming AI framework from the National Institute of Standards and Technology – scheduled to be released this week. Some of these resources are also owned by private-sector third parties.

The National AI Initiative Act of 2020 mandated the formation of the NAIRR task force, co-chaired by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). OSTP and NSF launched the NAIRR task force in June 2021 and have since held 11 public meetings and issued two requests for information on how the NAIRR should operate.

“AI advances hold tremendous promise for tackling our hardest problems and achieving our greatest aspirations,” said Arati Prabhakar, OSTP Director and Assistant to the President for Science and Technology. “We will only realize this potential when many more kinds of researchers have access to the powerful capabilities that underpin AI advances.”

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.