The Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (AI)  is calling for a national research cloud led by the Federal government to fuel innovation and collaboration between academia, the public sector, and industry.

In an undated letter to President Donald Trump and members of Congress, the institute asserts that a national research cloud would support the computational resources necessary to support the data processing power critical to advancing AI. The national research cloud would provide free or “substantially discounted” access to tech necessary to develop AI and make experts available at universities to deploy advanced technologies.

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“These limitations put many research projects beyond the capabilities of most academic researchers, and seriously hamper the education of our next generation of AI practitioners,” the letter states. “A national research cloud could ameliorate this growing problem and allow university research and teaching to remain at the forefront of the field.”

The letter, signed by provosts of 22 unnamed universities, leaves implementation up to the policymakers, with a few suggestions. For example, the research cloud could be modeled after Federal user facilities operated by the Department of Energy, National Institute of Standards and Technology, or National Institutes of Health. Other options include contracts with commercial cloud providers or a combination of strategies to jumpstart implementation.

To lead this project, the academic organization calls on the Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a proposal for a bipartisan task force “within six months.”

Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI also calls for Federal agencies to make more data available for public research at no cost. Researchers could work with agencies to develop new methods to ensure data privacy while gaining access to data necessary to enable AI innovation.

Despite the availability of the letter on the institute’s website, a March 29 press release states that the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI would hold off on issuing the joint letter as officials focus on fighting the current pandemic.

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Katie Malone
Katie Malone
Katie Malone is a MeriTalk Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.