Startups want to use the NAIRR AI cloud

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Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: the pros and cons of letting private companies access a federally funded AI cloud, Nvidia is adding to its software arsenal and the latest funding for enterprise tech startups.

Twirl up

It’s a good time to be a chipmaker, aside from all the ongoing manufacturing shortage issue. Global chip sales revenue topped $50 billion in January, according to the SIAa jump of 26.8% compared to the same month last year.

Silicon Valley wants to participate in NAIRR

Rima Seiilova-Olson wasn’t sure why she was the only startup founder to be on a panel of academics.

“I feel a little puzzled,” Seilova-Olson said, co-founder and chief scientist of machine learning at mental health AI startup Kintsugi, speaking to Protocol about her attendance at a Feb. 16 federal task force meeting on how she might use a cloud of federally funded AI research.

The National AI Research Resource, or NAIRR, would be a repository of data and tools for AI research combined with access to the computing power needed to develop machine learning and other AI systems. But who will be able to use it remains a question.

  • The National Artificial Intelligence Initiative, created by Congress in 2020, envisions NAIRR as a research hub “for AI researchers and students from all fields and scientific disciplines,” including “communities, institutions and traditionally underserved areas”.
  • This legislation, which established the working group to plan the NAIRR, does not exclude private sector researchers, but some believe they should not belong to this community.
  • Researchers from the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, an influential proponent of the project, said the government-funded research center should focus on the needs of academic and nonprofit researchers.

Among representatives from five colleges and universities, Seiilova-Olson was the only speaker representing the private sector at the virtual roundtable addressing the needs of various potential users of the NAIRR.

  • Kintsugi is developing machine learning models to help detect clinical depression and anxiety based on voice data, and she said this means the company needs access to expensive computing power to treat large-scale unstructured data.
  • But in addition to the cogs of building AI, Seiilova-Olson said NAIRR should also provide training or community resources for people without access to traditional computer science education. .
  • “There’s a great need for small players like me to benefit from these resources, and I’m not talking about computing power and data,” she told Protocol last week.

The use of the cloud by private sector researchers would pose legal and logistical problems, as well as divert attention from its primary mission, said Jen King, chief privacy and data policy officer at the Stanford Institute.

  • “Overloading this resource to cater to very different user groups — small businesses and academic researchers — can undermine its development and, ultimately, its effectiveness,” she told Protocol.
  • “Small business AI may express legitimate needs and constraints in the face of competition from large AI, but the NAIRR may not be the right solution to address them,” King said.

The NAIRR task force already has a presence in the private sector, which is by design according to the legislation which established it.

  • Google said it wants researchers who don’t need the computing power of the search cloud to be able to access NAIRR data. On the one hand, it would ensure that researchers from commercial cloud providers like Google, Amazon and Microsoft would be able to take advantage of the data flowing through the system.
  • Healthcare data giant Cerner, recently acquired by Oracle, has also expressed interest in NAIRR. The company, which helps healthcare customers manage patient data and increases its use of AI for hospital administration and patient care, has emphasized public-private partnerships in concerns how the resource’s data is processed.

Meanwhile, opponents of the project, including some advice on AI policy within the Federal Trade Commission, have raised concerns that the NAIRR is designed primarily to enable large-scale AI projects that, by default, would require the help of large vendors private sector cloud.

Yet there is no shortage of academics who see value in the creation and maintenance of NAIRR by private cloud providers.

  • “I would strongly recommend that NAIRR be based on existing cloud providers in the commercial space,” said Tom Dietterich, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Oregon State University’s Collaborative Robotics and Intelligent Systems Institute, during the panel discussion.
  • However, said Emily Grumbling, a research staff member at the Science and Technology Policy Institute, “relying on these resources could ultimately increase dependence on the private sector and on resources for purpose. lucrative for AI. [research and development] ecosystem “.

-Kate Kaye (E-mail | Twitter)

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Nvidia places another bet on enterprise software and storage

Long known for its prowess in graphics chip design, Nvidia’s growing software business has received more attention lately.

Nvidia said Monday that it had acquired Israeli software-defined storage company Excelero, aiming to add its technology to Nvidia’s enterprise offerings. Excelero is known for its NVMesh technology, which is software that creates a pool of networked SSDs that behave like those physically attached to a server.

Using software to organize storage drives gives customers the ability to optimize them based on design factors such as cost or performance. Nvidia said it plans to use Excelero’s engineering team to help expand block storage support in its high-performance computing software stack and the software that aids its data processors.

To date, Excelero had raised approximately $35 million from various investors, including Qualcomm Ventures and Mellanox, which Nvidia also acquired. Nvidia did not disclose the terms of the agreement.

— Max A. Cherney (E-mail | Twitter)

Financial corner

Payhawk hit a Valuation at $1 billion after raising $100 million to help companies manage payments and expenses.

Connecteam was valued at $800 million following a $120 million fundraising to boost its productivity apps for deskless workers.

Initiated reached a valuation of $1.22 billion after raising $121 million to develop its marketing data analytics product.

Apollo.io is worth 900 million dollars after raising $110 million for sales intelligence and enablement.

Bright Computing raised $105 million of Bill Gates and other investors to ramp up production of his light-based AI chip.

— Aisha counts (E-mail | Twitter)

A MESSAGE FROM ADOBE

Get inspired by personalizing the digital economy at Adobe Summit 2022. Explore key industry trends and ideas, develop your skills, learn about the latest innovations from Adobe Labs, and connect with peers and experts from around the world whole.

Learn more

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