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AI task force may open government data to researchers

One of the strategies the new National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force is considering to spur innovation is to give AI researchers secure access to anonymous data the government collects – from vehicle sensors to health information -- and provide the computing power to analyze that data.

The task force will advise the administration on creating and implementing the National AI Research Resource, a shared research infrastructure that will give AI researchers access to computational resources, high-quality data, educational tools and user support, according to a White House announcement.

“In order to investigate a lot of their really great ideas in AI, [researchers] need access to powerful computing infrastructure and they need access to data,” Lynne Parker, assistant director of AI at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and task force co-chair, told the Wall Street Journal. Many academic researchers, she said, “simply don’t have access to these computational resources and data, and this is hampering innovation.”

Anonymous census, medical and other government data – along with data from nongovernment sources -- could also be made available to researchers at universities and private companies, officials told the Journal, adding that the task force is working to ensure American’s data privacy is protected.  

“Because you have very sensitive data about individuals, there are challenges in being able to make that data available to the broader research community,” said Erwin Gianchandani, senior adviser at the National Science Foundation and task force co-chair.

The task force plans to release reports in May and November 2022.

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