Our Nation’s AI innovation begins with the inspirational ideas of researchers from all across the country. Advancing the state of the art in AI and related areas, however, requires more than a good idea. It needs supporting resources, including access to research funding, high quality datasets, computational infrastructure, and testbeds. Unfortunately, discovering available resources well-suited for AI research can demand a significant amount of time. While experienced researchers know how to find these resources, those newer to the field often don’t know where to begin.
To make it easier for all AI researchers to locate and explore the many relevant Federal resources and funding programs, the National AI Initiative Office has established an AI Researchers Portal on AI.gov. Created in partnership with Federal departments and agencies and the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development coordination office, this portal connects AI researchers to Federal resources that can support their research, including data, computing, and testbeds, as well as AI-relevant grant funding programs. This portal is one of many tools and approaches for advancing the Nation’s leadership in AI research and development – the first goal of the National AI Initiative.
For those new to AI research, the AI Researchers Portal provides pointers to informational guides for navigating Federal research funding processes. This includes resources for learning about the Federal grant lifecycle and processes through Grants 101, as well as links to Grants.gov, Research.gov, and Challenge.gov.
The Federal government currently offers at least 140 research funding programs that provide grants to AI investigators who want to explore innovative ideas. The AI Research Program Repository on the AI Researchers Portal provides a searchable directory of these AI-relevant Federal grant programs. In this repository, grant programs can be filtered by the offering department or agency, the particular AI strategy topic that is covered (as outlined in the National AI R&D Strategic Plan: 2019 Update), and whether it is considered “core AI”, which advances the foundations of AI, or “other AI”, which refers to use-inspired AI research in fields such as cybersecurity or materials discovery.
High quality datasets are also critically important for training many types of AI systems. The Data Resources section of the portal provides links to a number of quality Federal datasets and repositories that are useful for AI research, including NASA’s clearinghouse for open data, NOAA’s Big Data Program datasets, NIH-supported open data repositories, NIST’s Science Data Portal, and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Open Data Portal.
Cutting-edge computational infrastructure is often required for AI research, including supercomputing, cloud computing, and other types of computing resources. The Computing Resources section of the AI Researchers Portal connects researchers with a variety of Federal programs facilitating access to the computational infrastructure that can advance AI research. These computing infrastructure programs include NSF’s CloudBank, Neocortex, Open Science Grid, and XSEDE programs; NIH’s STRIDES Initiative; and the multi-agency and multi-stakeholder COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium.
Finally, testing and testbed environments can often accelerate progress in AI research. Testbed resources support research progress through benchmarking, enabling reproducibility testing, and building communities of discovery and practice. The AI R&D Testbed Inventory provides a searchable repository of 40 Federally-funded testbeds relevant for AI research. In this repository, testbed resources can be filtered by the hosting organization, the Federal funding agency, the domain of application, and whether the facility is virtual or physical.
We hope that the AI Researchers Portal will help U.S. researchers more easily navigate and connect with available resources that will make them more productive and successful in advancing the state of the art in AI and related fields. Please contact us at the National AI Initiative Office if you have ideas for making this portal more useful, inclusive, or effective. Additionally, let us know if you are aware of other Federally-funded AI resources that should be added to the AI Researchers Portal.
Lynne Parker is the Director of the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office.
The seal of the National Artificial Intelligence Initiative Office.