New York to launch Empire AI for collaborative AI research

January 10, 2024

New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced a statewide consortium to promote collaboration between public and private institutions to drive AI research.

The project, called Empire AI, will be funded by $400 million in public funds and private investment from funders including Bloomberg co-founder Tom Secunda. Of that total, $275m will come from state funds.

The project’s founding institutions include Columbia, Cornell University, New York University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the State University of New York (SUNY), the City University of New York (CUNY), and the Simons Foundation.

The funding will be used to set up a state-of-the-art computing center in Upstate New York. The computing resources required to do cutting-edge AI research are prohibitively expensive for most educational institutions which limits the impact they can have in driving AI innovation.

This computing center will enable researchers from New York’s leading institutions to collaborate on AI research that Hochul hopes will benefit the state’s communities.

Simons Foundation President David Spergel said, “The Simons Foundation is excited to be a partner in building this new AI facility that will enable researchers at CUNY, the Simons Foundation’s Flatiron Institute, and other NY State partners to have access to cutting-edge facilities.”

The New York-based foundation is a significant funder of projects that advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences.

Governor Hochul said, “The Empire AI consortium will be transformative, bringing jobs and opportunity to New York and making us a global leader in this groundbreaking sector. Together with our partners in academia and the private sector, we’ll harness the power of artificial intelligence and ensure this technology is being used for the public interest.”

Hochul sees the potential for AI to enable faster and improved access to services for the public but recognizes the need for caution.

To that end, she directed the Office of Information Technology Services to issue a policy to establish guidelines for the acceptable use of AI by state entities. The policy makes reference to the need for “human oversight” and adds that “automated final decision systems are not permitted.”

Empire AI will see educational institutions get access to the kinds of computing resources that currently only large tech companies work with. With a focus on public benefit rather than for-profit solutions, this initiative could see AI bring tangible benefits to New Yorkers in the near future.

Tech:NYC President & CEO Julie Samuels said, “With Empire AI, we’re pioneering safe, equitable, and accessible AI innovations that will benefit every corner of New York’s economy.”

SUNY Chancellor John B. King, Jr. said, “These cutting-edge scientific tools will be utilized to both spur innovation and establish best practices for the ethical use of AI’s transformative power.”

Let’s hope we see Empire AI up and running very soon. If the project delivers the transformative AI solutions the founders hope for, it could provide a model for other states to emulate.

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Eugene van der Watt

Eugene comes from an electronic engineering background and loves all things tech. When he takes a break from consuming AI news you'll find him at the snooker table.


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