In early May, the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), in collaboration with other federal agencies, stakeholders, and higher education institutions, announced the launch of a $140 million USD investment fund to establish "seven new National Artificial Intelligence Research Institutes," (AI Institutes).

It stated that the initiative is "part of a broader effort across the federal government to advance a cohesive approach to AI-related opportunities and risks," something that has been weighing heavily on the minds of individuals, companies, and regulators.

NSF expressed hopes that the new AI Institutes will function in a way that advances foundational AI research in a way that promotes ethical and trustworthy systems. Other goals include the development of novel approaches to areas like cybersecurity, climate change, brain study, public health, and education.

"The AI Institutes will support the development of a diverse AI workforce in the United States and help address the risks and potential harms posed by AI. Today’s investment means the NSF and funding partners have now invested close to half a billion dollars in the AI Institutes research network, which reaches almost every U.S. state," it shared.

As part of this next wave of AI Institutes, seven universities were named, including the University of Maryland, the University of California, the University of Minnesota, the University of Illinois, the University at Buffalo, Columbia University, and Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

Each of the institutes is designed to focus on specific factors and use cases of the technology, with Columbia for example tasked with researching the "neural and cognitive foundations of AI. Others like CMU have been tasked with the development of "human-centric AI for decision making" (AI-SDM), with plans to begin operations on June 1.

NSF shared that the goal of AI-SDM is to "enable emergency managers, public health officials, first responders, community workers, and the public to make decisions that are data-driven, robust, agile, resource-efficient, and trustworthy."

Serving as the director of the new institute will be Aarti Singh, a professor at the university's machine learning department -- in a comment on the announcement, she shared that "We need to develop AI technology that works for the people… It’s actually built on data that is vetted, algorithms that are vetted, with feedback from all the stakeholders and participatory design."

She went on to highlight that the ethical use of these systems will be a "central goal" at CMU and expressed that caution will go into the process.

In other news, OpenAI leadership warns of superintelligent AI and shares thoughts on governance.

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