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Bullet policy · Aug 31, 2020

White House Announces Nationwide Network of AI, QIS Research Institutes

On August 26, 2020, the White House, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Energy (DOE) announced more than $1 billion in awards for the establishment of twelve new artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum information science (QIS) research and development (R&D) institutes nationwide.

NSF, in partnership with U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), the U.S. Department of Homeland’s Security Science and Technology Directorate, and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration, will invest $140 million over five years in seven AI Research Institutes - five led by NSF and two led by USDA NIFA - with each institute receiving $20 million. These research and education institutes will be based at universities and will focus on AI related research areas, such as machine-learning, synthetic manufacturing, precision agriculture, and forecasting prediction. According to the Administration, this research will improve the national capacity in critical areas such as extreme weather preparedness, K-12 education advancement, next-generation workforce development, and agricultural resilience and sustainability.

The seven AI Research Institutes supported by NSF and NIFA include:

  • NSF AI Institute for Research on Trustworthy AI in Weather, Climate, and Coastal Oceanography at the University of Oklahoma, Norman.
  • USDA-NIFA AI Institute for Next Generation Food Systems at the University of California, Davis.
  • USDA-NIFA AI Institute for Future Agricultural Resilience, Management, and Sustainability at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • NSF AI Institute for Molecular Discovery, Synthetic Strategy, and Manufacturing (or the NSF Molecule Maker Lab) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
  • NSF AI Institute for Foundations of Machine Learning at the University of Texas, Austin.
  • NSF AI Institute for Student-AI Teaming at the University of Colorado, Boulder.
  • NSF AI Institute for Artificial Intelligence and Fundamental Interactions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“The AI institutes being awarded today comprise large, multi-disciplinary, and multi-sector collaborations: they bring together consortia of dozens of universities and other organizations, ultimately spanning academia, government, and industry,” said Michael Kratsios, U.S. Chief Technology Officer. “In effect, over the next five years, some of the best minds in the country will be tackling some of the grandest challenges that we face, both in terms of new AI techniques as well as breakthroughs in fields of science and engineering and sectors of our economy. And along the way, they will nurture the future American workforce in AI research and practice.”

In addition, DOE will provide $625 million over five years to establish five QIS Research Centers that will be led by DOE National Laboratory teams at Argonne, Brookhaven, Fermi, Oak Ridge, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. Academia and private companies, including IBM, Google, and Intel, will invest another $300 million in these centers that will focus on QIS research topics, such as quantum networking, sensing, computing, and materials manufacturing.

NSF’s AI Research Institutes and DOE’s QIS Research Centers will collectively serve as national R&D hubs for “industries of the future”, namely artificial intelligence (AI), quantum information science (QIS), 5G communications, and other technologies. According to the White House, this new network of institutes “will not only accelerate discovery and innovation, but will also promote job creation and workforce development” by including “a strong emphasis on training, education, and outreach to help Americans of all backgrounds, ages, and skill levels participate in our 21st-century economy.”