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Why America Needs an Apollo Program for The Age of AI

 |  June 3, 2024

By: Eric Schmidt (MIT Technology Review)

The global competition for computing power is in full swing, driven by the rapid growth of artificial intelligence. Sam Altman of OpenAI is looking to raise up to $7 trillion for a chipmaking venture. Big tech companies like Microsoft and Amazon are developing their own AI chips. The demand for more computing power to train and run AI models is creating a race for advanced chips and large data sets. This competition is not only a source of geopolitical power, as seen with US restrictions on chip exports to China, but it is also influencing how countries will grow and compete in the future. Nations like India and the UK are creating national strategies and stockpiling Nvidia graphics processing units.

I believe it’s time for America to develop its own national computing strategy, similar to the Apollo program, but for the AI era.

In January, under President Biden’s executive order on AI, the National Science Foundation launched a pilot program for the National AI Research Resource (NAIRR). This program aims to create a shared research infrastructure to provide AI computing power, access to public and private data sets, and training resources for students and AI researchers.

The NAIRR pilot is a crucial first step. The NAIRR Task Force’s final report, published last year, suggested a budget of $2.6 billion over six years to run the NAIRR. However, this amount is not enough, and it is uncertain if Congress will approve the NAIRR beyond the pilot phase…