Industry-Sponsored Research Week

Universities and tech giants back initiative to expand access to powerful computing resources

By David Schwartz
Published: July 7th, 2020

A group of leading universities and technology companies last week agreed to back a new project intended to give academics and other scientists access to powerful computing resources that are currently available mainly to a few tech giants.

The initiative, the National Research Cloud, has also received bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate in the form of bills creating a task force that would develop a plan to create and fund a national research cloud. This program would give academic scientists access to the cloud data centers of the tech giants, and to public data sets for research.

Organizations declaring their support for the creation of a research cloud and their willingness to participate in the project include universities such as Stanford, Carnegie Mellon and Ohio State, along with tech companies including Google, Amazon and IBM. The federal government, while cutting funding in many research areas, has been pushing for more funding of artificial intelligence research, viewing the field as critical for both national security and economic competitiveness. The national cloud legislation will be proposed as an amendment to this year’s defense budget authorization.

“We have a real challenge in our country from China in terms of what they are doing with AI,” said Representative Anna G. Eshoo, (D-California), a sponsor of the House bill.

If the bill were to become law, funding for the project, the terms for paying the cloud providers, and what data might be available would be up to the task force and Congress.

“This is a logical first step,” said Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio), a sponsor of the Senate bill. “The task force is going to have to grapple with how you pay for it and how you govern it. But you shouldn’t have to work at Google to have access to this technology.”

Source: The New York Times

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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