The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today that it was funding 11 new National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Institutes. The latest grants follow a first round of seven AI research institutes established in 2020. The new investment totals $220 million and expands the network of these institutes to a total of 40 states and the District of Columbia, according to NSF.
“I am delighted to announce the establishment of new NSF National AI Research Institutes as we look to expand into all 50 states,” said National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan in the agency’s news release. “These institutes are hubs for academia, industry and government to accelerate discovery and innovation in AI. Inspiring talent and ideas everywhere in this important area will lead to new capabilities that improve our lives from medicine to entertainment to transportation and cybersecurity and position us in the vanguard of competitiveness and prosperity.”
NSF is partnering with federal agencies (U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, U.S. Department of Homeland Security) and private companies (Google, Amazon, Intel and Accenture) to create the National AI Research Institutes.
Each grant provides about $20 million in support to an institute over five years. The 11 new AI Research institutes are:
AI Institute for Collaborative Assistance and Responsive Interaction for Networked Groups. Led by the Georgia Institute of Technology, this institute seeks to develop AI systems that learn individual models of human behavior and how they change over time. It will use that knowledge to “help support a growing population of older adults sustain independence, improve quality of life, and increase effectiveness of care coordination…” It is partially funded by Amazon and Google.
AI Institute for Advances in Optimization. Also led by Georgia Tech, this institute will combine AI and mathematical optimization. It will create education pathways and workforce development training for AI in engineering to draw in more underrepresented students and teachers. “The institute will demonstrate foundational advances on use cases in energy, resilience and sustainability, supply chains, and circuit design and control.” This institute is partially funded by Intel.
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AI Institute for Learning-Enabled Optimization at Scale. Headed by the University of California San Diego in collaboration with five other universities, this institute aims to “make impossible optimizations possible” by addressing the challenges of scale and complexity. “Learning-enabled optimization will be applied in several technical focus areas vital to the nation’s health and prosperity, including semiconductor chip design, robotics and networks.” It’s partially funded by Intel.
AI Institute for Intelligent Cyberinfrastructure with Computational Learning in the Environment. Led by the Ohio State University, this institute will build the next generation of cyberinfrastructure to make AI easier for scientists to use. It will build a “national cyberinfrastructure that is ready to ‘plug-and-play in areas…such as ‘smart food sheds,’ precision agriculture and animal ecology.“ This institute is fully funded by NSF.
AI Institute for Future Edge Networks and Distributed Intelligence. Also headed by the Ohio State University, this institute will use synergies between networking and AI to design new wireless edge networks. It will improve AI “applications in sectors such as intelligent transportation, remote health care, distributed robotics and smart aerospace.” It’s partially funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
AI Institute for Edge Computing Leveraging Next-generation Networks. Led by Duke University, this institute will focus on developing edge computing with AI functionality while keeping complexity and costs under control. “It will transform the design, operation and service of future systems from mobile devices to networks…. and will spearhead collaboration and knowledge transfer, translating emerging technical capabilities to new business models and entrepreneurial opportunities.” This institute is also partially funded by DHS.
AI Institute for Dynamic Systems. This institute, led by the University of Washington, will provide research and education in AI and machine learning theory, algorithms and applications to achieve safe, real-time learning and control of complex dynamic systems. It will “integrate physics-based models with AI and machine learning approaches, leading the way towards data-enabled ethical, efficient, and explainable solutions for real-time sensing, prediction, and decision-making challenges across science and engineering. “ It’s also partially funded by DHS.
AI Institute for Engaged Learning. Led by North Carolina State University, this institute will emphasize natural language processing, computer vision and machine learning in narrative-centered learning environments. It “will serve as a nexus for in-school and out-of-school STEM education innovation, empowering and engaging diverse learners and stakeholders to ensure that AI-driven learning environments are ethically designed to promote equity and inclusion.” This institute is fully funded by NSF.
AI Institute for Adult Learning and Online Education. This institute, headed by the Georgia Research Alliance, will develop novel AI theories and techniques to enhance adult online education, making this mode of learning comparable to in-person education in STEM disciplines. “Together with partners in the technical college systems and educational technology sector, ALOE will advance online learning using virtual assistants to make education more available, affordable, achievable, and ultimately, more equitable.” Accenture is partially funding this institute.
Institute for Agricultural AI for Transforming Workforce and Decision Support. Led by Washington State University, this institute will develop AI to address complex agricultural challenges related to “labor, water, weather and climate change. The institute involves farmers, workers, managers and policy makers in the development of these solutions…” The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture is partially funding this institute.
Institute for Resilient Agriculture. This institute, headed by Iowa State University, will use AI to enable crop improvement and better resiliency to climate change. It “will promote the study of cyber-agricultural systems at the intersection of plant science, agronomics, and AI…” The U.S. Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture is also partially funding this institute.
The new NSF institutes promise to be groundbreaking initiatives, and they’re another reminder of why research universities are so vital to American society. They will enable the U.S. to advance and apply AI-based technologies to a wide range of challenges: helping older adults lead more independent lives; transforming AI into a more accessible technology; improving agriculture and food supply chains; enhancing adult online learning; and supporting underrepresented students in STEM education.