University-led AI is key to New York’s future – New York Daily News

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With an incredible community of scholars on the cutting edge of our generation’s greatest advancements, New York’s powerhouse universities are positioned to lead the race in the development and governance of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, shaping the potential of AI with the brightest minds across our state.

Right now, we have the opportunity to do just that through Empire AI — a proposal that aims to establish a state-of-the-art AI computing facility in Buffalo. This novel initiative would enable our state’s leading research institutions to come together to foster partnerships that enhance New York’s competitive edge in the global AI landscape and pioneer safe, equitable, and accessible AI research and development that will benefit every corner of New York’s economy. But for this to happen, our state leaders must ensure the passage of this proposal in this year’s final budget agreement.

Supported by two out of three New Yorkers, Empire AI would provide institutions like ours access to computing resources that are too often prohibitively expensive and difficult to obtain in New York. Led by a consortium of public and private universities throughout New York, and supported by philanthropic backers such as Tom Secunda and the Simons Foundation, this center would be the first project of its kind geared toward the public and overseen by educational institutions — a stark contrast to existing projects funded by private entities that serve private interests.

As New York’s leading universities, we are proud to house some of the most powerful AI research teams in the country. Collectively, our faculty and students will invent novel AI algorithms, models, and tools; make surprising scientific and engineering discoveries; and use AI to tackle longstanding societal challenges, from climate to healthcare to food security.

We will draw on our humanistic values to ensure we develop AI technology in an equitable and responsible way. Through our shared mission to advance the frontiers of research, our institutions are standing on the precipice of unforeseen AI breakthroughs.

Our universities have a unique perspective to offer on questions of AI safety, ethics, and policy by bringing together experts from a wide breadth of disciplines across technology, science and engineering, arts and the humanities, medicine, and law and policy. Together, with the resources and computing power of an interconnected AI research center, we can pioneer responsible, safe, impactful, and equitable innovation that will make New York the undisputed leader of AI technology in the United States.

Empire AI would also transform higher education enrollment in New York City and across the state, enabling our institutions to attract and recruit the best talent in the country to catalyze research on AI discoveries. As a hub of AI innovation and activity, we would build a pipeline for our students to participate in the AI economy, foster novel jobs in industries we haven’t even imagined, and create and attract a new sector of AI-powered businesses in New York.

A new thriving AI ecosystem would in turn attract more talent, more start-ups, and more companies to come to our state, set up shop in our state, and make New York a magnet for AI for generations to come.

To prepare our students to join the workforce of the future, we must ensure that they have access to cutting-edge technology. Through AI development, we can build a workforce prepared for the future with skills that our economy will rely on. This will enable them to advance medicine, increase economic growth, prevent crime, mitigate climate change, and enhance cybersecurity — all of which can be further informed by objective academic researchers.

Now more than ever as academics are priced out of AI research, access to these computing resources are essential. The mission of higher education is to disseminate information, create new knowledge, and promote social mobility, and there is no group better qualified than universities to harness the power of AI for the public good. With Empire AI, New York’s continued legacy of innovation will be in good hands.

Investing in AI research is investing in New York’s future, and we are confident our elected leaders will recognize and approve the incredible potential and promise of Empire AI and approve it in their upcoming state budget.

Bala is dean of the Cornell Ann S. Bowers College of Computing and Information Science. Morrisett is the Jack and Rilla Neafsey dean and vice provost, Cornell Tech. Brumberg is the interim president, The City University of New York Graduate Center. Bloom is chief research officer and vice provost for research, New York University. Wing is executive vice president for research and professor of computer science at Columbia University.

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