White House to Invest $1+ Billion in AI, Quantum Computing

The White House is planning a $1+ billion, five-year investment to fund 12 new research facilities on artificial intelligence, 5G, quantum information sciences and other emerging technologies. Federal agencies such as the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will collaborate with private partners including major tech companies such as International Business Machines, Microsoft and others. The Trump administration proposes to spend 30 percent more on these technologies in the 2021 nondefense budget.

The Wall Street Journal reports that, “the U.S. Department of Agriculture will invest $140 million in seven institutes focused on AI, while the Energy Department will supervise and invest $625 million in the five institutes focused on quantum information sciences, which includes quantum computing.” IBM, Microsoft and others will donate technology services to the Energy Department’s efforts. The AI facilities will “research how technologies can be used in areas such as precision agriculture, weather forecasting and more,” and those focused on quantum technologies will target “quantum computing and networking.”

The Center for Data Innovation released a report in 2019 revealing that, “China is adopting AI at a faster rate than the U.S. and the European Union.” U.S. Chief Technology Officer Michael Kratsios stated that, “it is absolutely imperative the United States continues to lead the world in AI and quantum … the future of American economic prosperity and national security will be shaped by how we invest, research, develop and deploy these cutting edge technologies today.”

The White House also issued a press release stating that it “is taking strong action to ensure American leadership in the industries of the future — artificial intelligence (AI), quantum information science (QIS), 5G communications, and other key emerging technologies that will shape our economy and security for years to come.”

The new AI institutes will be hosted at universities, including “the University of Oklahoma, the University of Texas at Austin, University of Colorado, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of California, Davis, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.” The DOE’s institutes will be hosted at its Argonne, Brookhaven, Fermilab, Oak Ridge and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories. According to NSF director Sethuraman Panchanathan, “at least six minority serving institutions, including historically black colleges and universities like Tuskegee University, are among the partners.”

The objective, in part, is to “conduct early research in areas the private sector is less likely to invest in but which the administration considers important for the nation’s competitive position” such as “developing AI-enabled tools that can advance the discovery and manufacturing of new bioactive compounds.”