Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Tuesday, July 23, 2024

NSF’s NAIRR Pilot Awards 1st Round Access to 35 Projects in Partnership with DOE 

May 6, 2024 - The U.S. National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy announced today the first 35 projects that will be supported with computational time through the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) Pilot, marking a significant milestone in fostering responsible AI research across the nation.

"Today marks a pivotal moment in the advancement of AI research as we announce the first round of NAIRR pilot projects. The NAIRR pilot, fueled by the need to advance responsible AI research and broaden access to cutting-edge resources needed for AI research, symbolizes a firm stride towards democratizing access to vital AI tools across the talented communities in all corners of our country," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "While this is only the first step in our NAIRR efforts, we plan to rapidly expand our partnerships and secure the level of investments needed to realize the NAIRR vision and unlock the full potential of AI for the benefit of humanity and society."

The NAIRR Pilot — a result of President Joe Biden's landmark Executive Order on the Safe, Secure and Trustworthy Development and Use of AI — will provide AI researchers and students access to key AI resources and data. Twenty-seven projects will be supported through resources on NSF-funded advanced computing systems, including Delta at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Frontera and Lonestar at the Texas Advanced Computing Center at The University of Texas at Austin; and the Neocortex system at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. An additional eight projects will have access to DOE-supported systems, including the Summit supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the AI Testbed at Argonne National Laboratory.

"Under President Biden's leadership, we are expanding access to critical data and compute so that more and more people can benefit from responsible AI technology," said Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Arati Prabhakar. "NAIRR will advance research to develop trustworthy technology that strengthens our values and helps us overcome the great challenges of our times."

Projects granted computing allocations in this initial round encompass a diverse range of AI-related areas, including investigations into language model safety and security, privacy and federated models, and privacy-preserving synthetic data generation. Other projects also focus on domain-specific research, such as using AI and satellite imagery to map permafrost disturbances, developing a foundation model for aquatic sciences, securing medical imaging data and using AI for agricultural pest identification.

"DOE Office of Science has decades of experience in cutting-edge AI research and a longstanding commitment to developing world-leading high performance computing resources that are open to the scientific community," said Harriet Kung, acting director of the DOE Office of Science. "We are proud to continue our mission by providing valuable access to some of the fastest computing facilities in the world to the NAIRR Pilot. Innovations developed in collaboration with industry partners are designed to address not only traditional scientific workloads but also the growing demands of AI research at scale. We are excited to see what the future holds for AI in science."

In tandem with the announcement of initial awards, the NAIRR Pilot opened the next opportunity for researchers and educators to apply for access to resources that support AI research, including advanced computing systems; cloud computing platforms; access to foundation models, software and privacy enhancing technology tools, collaborations to train models; and education platforms. This opportunity includes cutting-edge resources contributed by the pilot's nongovernmental partners, including Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, NVIDIA, SambaNova Systems, Cerebras, OpenAI, Anthropic, Groq, EleutherAI, OpenMined, Hugging Face and Vocareum.

In addition, the research community will have the opportunity to access resources from additional NSF advanced computing platforms at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, the National Center for Supercomputer Applications at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California San Diego and the Texas Advanced Computing Center at The University of Texas at Austin, as well as systems at Purdue University, Indiana University and Texas A&M University.

The second opportunity also seeks to connect educators and instructors in universities to computing, data, and software resources that will enable them to train their students through hands-on projects and exercises.

Researchers and educators can apply for access to these resources and view descriptions of the first cohort projects at beginning May 6, 2024.

The NAIRR Pilot embodies a commitment to diversity and collaboration, recognizing that the strength of the U.S. AI ecosystem depends on having a research and education community which reflects the diversity of our nation. By fostering a strong and responsible AI research ecosystem, the pilot aims to empower a wide range of perspectives and technical directions from researchers and educators from U.S. institutions, including those from underrepresented groups, nonprofits and small businesses.

Source: NSF