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Silicon Valley is pricing academics out of AI research

Silicon Valley is pricing academics out of AI research

The Washington Post

By Naomi Nix, Cat Zakrzewski and Gerrit De Vynck
March 10, 2024
Fei-Fei Li, the “godmother of artificial intelligence,” delivered an urgent plea to President Biden in the glittering ballroom of San Francisco’s Fairmont Hotel last June.
The Stanford professor asked Biden to fund a national warehouse of computing power and data sets — part of a “moonshot investment” allowing the country’s top AI researchers to keep up with tech giants.
She elevated the ask Thursday at Biden’s State of the Union address, which Li attended as a guest of Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) to promote a bill to fund a national AI repository.
Li is at the forefront of a growing chorus of academics, policymakers and former employees who argue the sky-high cost of working with AI models is boxing researchers out of the field, compromising independent study of the burgeoning technology.
As companies like Meta, Google and Microsoft funnel billions of dollars into AI, a massive resources gap is building with even the country’s richest universities. Meta aims to procure 350,000 of the specialized computer chips — called GPUs — necessary to run gargantuan calculations on AI models. In contrast, Stanford’s Natural Language Processing Group has 68 GPUs for all of its work.
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