Commitment to developing artificial intelligence (AI) as a national research strategy in the United States may have unequivocally defined 2019 as the Year of AI — particularly at the federal level, more specifically throughout the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and its national laboratory complex.
In February, the White House established the Executive Order on Maintaining American Leadership in Artificial Intelligence (American AI Initiative) to expand the nation’s leadership role in AI research. Its goals are to fuel economic growth, enhance national security and improve quality of life.
The initiative injects substantial and much-needed research dollars into federal facilities across the United States, promoting technology advances and innovation and enhancing collaboration with nongovernment partners and allies abroad.
In response, DOE has made AI — along with exascale supercomputing and quantum computing — a major element of its $5.5 billion scientific R&D budget and established the Artificial Intelligence and Technology Office, which will serve to coordinate AI work being done across the DOE.
At DOE facilities like Argonne National Laboratory, researchers have already begun using AI to design better materials and processes, safeguard the nation’s power grid, accelerate treatments in brain trauma and cancer and develop next-generation microelectronics for applications in AI-enabled devices.
Over the last two years, Argonne has made significant strides toward implementing its own AI initiative. Leveraging the Laboratory’s broad capabilities and world-class facilities, it has set out to explore and expand new AI techniques; encourage collaboration; automate traditional research methods, as well as lab facilities and drive discovery.
In July, it hosted an AI for Science town hall, the first of four such events that also included Oak Ridge and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories and DOE’s Office of Science.
Engaging nearly 350 members of the AI community, the town hall served to stimulate conversation around expanding the development and use of AI, while addressing critical challenges by using the initiative framework called AI for Science.
“AI for Science requires new research and infrastructure, and we have to move a lot of data around and keep track of thousands of models,” says Rick Stevens, Associate Laboratory Director for Argonne’s Computing, Environment and Life Sciences (CELS) Directorate and a professor of computer science at the University of Chicago.
“How do we distribute this production capability to thousands of people? We need to have system software with different capabilities for AI than for simulation software to optimize workflows. And these are just a few of the issues we have to begin to consider.”
The conversation has just begun and continues through Laboratory-wide talks and events, such as a recent AI for Science workshop aimed at growing interest in AI capabilities through technical hands-on sessions.
Link to full ANL article: https://www.anl.gov/article/artificial-intelligence-transforming-science-improving-lives