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CHIPS Articles: NSF joins federal partners in announcing update to national AI research and development strategic plan

NSF joins federal partners in announcing update to national AI research and development strategic plan
2019 update to federal plan reevaluates priorities, adds partnership-building as critical element
By NSF News - June 24, 2019
The National Science Foundation joins other federal agency partners in announcing the release of the 2019 Update to the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research and Development (R&D) Strategic Plan.

Development of the strategic plan was led by the Select Committee on AI of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), co-chaired by NSF, DARPA and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and engaged leading AI researchers and research administrators across the federal government, with input from the broader civil society. The 2019 National AI R&D plan offers a national agenda on AI science and engineering, and follows the launch of the American AI Initiative earlier this year.

AI research has enabled breakthroughs across nearly every sector of society, from fundamental scientific research and medical innovation to safer transportation and more efficient manufacturing.

“Many of the transformative uses of AI that we are witnessing today are the result of NSF investments in fundamental AI research that reach back over decades,” said NSF Director France Córdova, and co-chair of the NSTC Select Committee on AI. “NSF is proud to have helped shape this coordinated federal strategy to drive forward the AI research and innovations that will be essential to ensuring the U.S. retains its global leadership in this critical research area.”

NSF is a leading federal funder of activities supporting AI research and innovation, including foundational and translational research, advanced and scalable computing resources, and education and workforce development.

The agency’s ability to bring together a vast range of scientific disciplines -- including computer and information science and engineering, cognitive science and psychology, economics and game theory, engineering and control theory, ethics, linguistics, mathematics, philosophy, and more -- uniquely positions NSF to lead the nation in addressing key research challenges.

The 2019 update refreshes the 2016 National AI R&D Strategic Plan, reevaluating federal priorities for AI R&D investments in response to the rapidly advancing field and integrating feedback from key stakeholders through a Request for Information issued last fall. It identifies eight strategic priority areas for federal investment in AI research and innovation, seven of which remain unchanged from the strategic plan released in 2016. New to the 2019 plan is an imperative to expand public and private partnerships to enhance federal investments and activities in support of AI.

In line with the vision outlined in the AI R&D Strategic Plan, NSF is working to expand and foster partnerships that leverage resources such as expertise, data, and tools to capitalize on the full potential of AI to strengthen the U.S. economy, advance job growth and enhance national security.

For example, NSF has recently formed industry partnerships to address key scientific challenges in AI, such as a partnership with Amazon to support research focused on fairness in AI, with a goal of contributing to trustworthy AI systems that are readily accepted and deployed to tackle grand challenges facing society. NSF is also serving as a convening force to bring together diverse stakeholders in the field, as when NSF brought together the government, industry and non-profit sectors last month to assess the current and future state of AI.

“The AI field is interdisciplinary and cross-sector by nature. Public and private partnerships provide us with opportunities to leverage the flow of people, ideas and innovations among academia, industry and government to enhance U.S. economic growth and global competitiveness,” said Jim Kurose, NSF assistant director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering and co-chair of the NSTC Machine Learning and AI Subcommittee. “Emphasizing the value of public and private partnerships to this critical research area is an important step to expanding the frontiers of foundational research and education in AI.”

The Stampede supercomputer at the University of Texas at Austin's Texas Advanced Computing Center. Credit: Texas Advanced Computing Center
The Stampede supercomputer at the University of Texas at Austin's Texas Advanced Computing Center. Credit: Texas Advanced Computing Center
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