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LEARN > AI > Charting the Future of Data for AI

Charting the Future of Data for AI

PCAST Report Outlines Crucial Steps for Data Access and Collaboration
16 May 2024
AI
PCAST Report Outlines Crucial Steps for Data Access and Collaboration

Fulfilling a requirement in the President’s Executive Order on the Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Development and Use of Artificial Intelligence, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), issued a report examining the importance of integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into scientific research to accelerate discovery and address pressing global issues. The report, “Report to the President on Supercharging Research: Harnessing Artificial Intelligence to Meet Global Challenges,” outlines a proactive strategy for the responsible use of AI to enhance scientific endeavors. PCAST’s strategic blueprint underscores the pivotal role of federal leadership in providing the data necessary to propel innovation and sustain global competitiveness in AI technologies.  

As the country works to craft a forward-looking vision centered around AI stakeholder engagement, governance frameworks, and technical infrastructure development, two initiatives will prove to be critical: the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) and the National Secure Data Service (NSDS). The NAIRR represents a significant step forward in AI research infrastructure and collaboration, while NSDS plays a crucial role for ensuring data integrity and security in the era of AI.

Expanding the NAIRR Pilot at NSF

The National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) is a shared research infrastructure that aims to strengthen and democratize access to critical resources necessary for responsible AI discovery and innovation. The NAIRR pilot, launched by the U.S. National Science Foundation and collaborating agencies, provides U.S.-based researchers and educators with access to advanced computing, datasets, models, software, training, and user support.

By connecting researchers and educators with the resources needed to support their work, the NAIRR pilot aims to power innovative AI research and inform the design of the full NAIRR ecosystem. The pilot is a proof of concept that demonstrates the importance of investing in AI research to advance the nation's global competitiveness, ignite economic growth, and shape international standards in AI development.

Expanding the NAIRR pilot will democratize access to AI resources across a diverse range of researchers and institutions. Enhancing access to anonymized or de-identified federal datasets encourages that data is used safely and responsibly to fuel AI advancements. Promoting interdisciplinary collaborations harnesses AI across academia, industry, national laboratories, and federal agencies, building on the strategic vision of the NAIRR Task Force.

PCAST’s Key Recommendations for the NAIRR: 

  • Expanding the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource (NAIRR) pilot, which aims to democratize access to AI resources across a diverse range of researchers and institutions.

  • Enhancing access to anonymized federal data sets for research, ensuring that data is used safely and responsibly.

  • Promoting interdisciplinary collaborations that harness AI across academia, industry, national laboratories, and federal agencies, building on the strategic vision of the NAIRR Task Force.

  • Upholding principles of responsible AI use in all stages of research to avoid issues such as bias or non-reproducible results.

With NAIRR, the goal is to establish a centralized platform that provides researchers with access to an expansive array of high-quality datasets spanning various domains like health care, finance, transportation, and beyond. Boosted by computing resources and state-of-the-art AI algorithms, NAIRR stands to accelerate AI innovation and foster interdisciplinary collaboration within the AI research community by reducing entry barriers, supporting reproducible research practices, and encouraging a vibrant and inclusive AI ecosystem.

 

NSDS Framework for Promoting Data Sharing and Access

Similarly, the NSDS provides an innovative approach to data sharing and access, factors that are just as necessary as compute power for the development and use of AI.  The NSDS is an initiative that aims to provide a secure framework for sharing sensitive and confidential data among government agencies, research institutions, and trusted, approved partners. Initiated as the NSDS Demonstration project, authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, the effort will inform efforts to develop a shared services model that streamlines and innovates data sharing and linking to enable decision-making at all levels of government and in all sectors.

The NSDS will pilot potential services, technologies, techniques, and shared service that could be used within a potential NSDS, focusing on novel research collaborations, data linkage methodologies, and privacy-preserving technologies and techniques. The project emphasizes the protection of restricted data, application to statistical activities, robust privacy frameworks, and confidentiality protections, while ensuring transparency to the American public.

NSDS is a critical component in the federal government’s efforts to promote secure data sharing for AI research and development by providing a secure framework for sharing sensitive and confidential data among government agencies, research institutions, and trusted partners. Through its emphasis on access control, privacy protections and collaboration capabilities, NSDS has the potential to uphold trust, transparency, and responsible deployment of AI technologies.

PCASTS’s Key Recommendations for the NSDS:

  • Develop robust data governance frameworks to enhance data quality and accessibility.

  • Promote the use of advanced statistical methods and technologies to improve the accuracy and utility of public data.

  • Strengthen collaborations between governmental and non-governmental organizations to enhance data-driven decision making. 

The Data Foundation supports the NSDS due to its potential to enhance the quality and accessibility of data, which is central to the Data Foundation’s mission. Improved data practices enrich research outcomes and policy decisions, ultimately leading to better societal outcomes. 

 

Collaboration for the future

The PCAST report's key recommendations highlight the growing momentum around leveraging AI for scientific research to benefit society. The need for collaboration between the NAIRR and NSDS is clear, and likely crucial, as the collaboration bridges a gap between advanced AI technologies and robust data practices. Integrating the NAIRR's AI research capabilities with the NSDS's strategic data use has the potential to significantly enhance the ability to create solutions to complex problems. Implementing the NAIRR and NSDS with synergy can lead to more effective data analysis, better AI models, and more informed decision-making across multiple sectors. Such collaboration ensures that advancements in AI and data management translate into practical applications that benefit society as a whole.

Together, NAIRR and NSDS offer a more comprehensive framework for creating a data infrastructure that enables the power of AI to tackle global challenges. By prioritizing inclusivity, transparency, and security, these initiatives lay the groundwork for a future where data is securely available to help drive AI solutions. 

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