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Hochul, industry leaders & advocates celebrate Empire AI Consortium to make NYS global leader in artificial intelligence


Wed, May 1st 2024 07:40 pm

Enacted budget includes 10-year, $275 million investment to create state-of-the-art artificial intelligence computing center at University at Buffalo

√ Governor also secures agreement on legislation to promote safe, ethical AI by requiring disclosures on political communications that include deceptive media

Submitted by the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday gathered industry leaders and advocates to celebrate a historic agreement with the New York State Legislature to establish Empire AI, a first-of-its-kind consortium to secure New York’s place at the forefront of artificial intelligence research, as part of the fiscal year 2025 enacted budget. The consortium will leverage a $275 million state investment to create and launch a state-of-the-art artificial intelligence computing center on the University at Buffalo’s campus. The center will be used by leading New York institutions to promote responsible research and development, create jobs and advance AI for the public good.

“Whoever dominates the AI industry will dominate the next chapter of history, and we want New York to win the race for the future,” Hochul said. “Our Empire AI Consortium will position New York state at the forefront of this burgeoning industry for decades to come. Through this pioneering public-private partnership, we are fostering an ecosystem of innovation, research and growth that will drive countless new discoveries, launch new companies and products, and transform the way that New Yorkers live their lives for the better.”

Expanding artificial intelligence across state

Access to the computing resources that power AI systems is prohibitively expensive and difficult to obtain. These resources are increasingly concentrated in the hands of large technology companies, who maintain outsized control of the AI development ecosystem. As a result, researchers, public interest organizations, and small companies are being left behind, which has enormous implications for AI safety and society at large. Empire AI will bridge this gap and accelerate the development of AI centered in public interest for New York state. Enabling this pioneering AI research and development will also help educational institutions incubate the AI-focused technology startups of the future, driving job growth.

The Empire AI consortium will include seven New York-based founding institutions: Columbia University, Cornell University, New York University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, the State University of New York, the City University of New York, and the Flatiron Institute. By increasing collaboration between New York state’s world-class research institutions, Empire AI will allow for efficiencies of scale not able to be achieved by any single university, empower and attract top-notch faculty and expand educational opportunity, and give rise to a wave of responsible innovation that will significantly strengthen our state’s economy and our national security.

The initiative will be funded by over $400 million in public and private investment, including a $250 million state capital grant investment, and $25 million over 10 years in SUNY funding. The project will also receive more than $125 million from the founding institutions and other private partners, including the Simons Foundation, whose Flatiron Institute works to advance research through computational methods; and Tom Secunda, co-founder of Bloomberg LP and the Secunda Family Foundation, which provides millions of dollars a year in grants to conservation, health care, scientific advancement and other causes.

In addition, as part of the budget, Hochul signed legislation to prioritize safe, ethical uses of AI as the state continues to build its AI footprint. The legislation includes a requirement that all forms of political communication – including image, video, audio, text or any technological representation of speech or conduct – disclose the use of materially deceptive media.

Hochul’s Innovation Agenda

Hochul’s commitment to advancing New York’s leadership in artificial intelligence builds on her broader agenda to expand cutting-edge technology development in the Empire State. Hochul recently announced that IBM CEO Arvind Krishna and Girls Who Code CEO Dr. Tarika Barrett will co-chair the new emerging technology advisory board – an independent group of industry leaders tasked with informing and accelerating New York’s transformation into a hub for growth and innovation. The governor previously signed New York’s historic Green CHIPS legislation to drive semiconductor research, development and manufacturing in New York state, and announced a $10 billion partnership to bring next-generation chips research to NY CREATES’ Albany NanoTech Complex. The governor has continued to advance a $620 million life science initiative to support innovation in biomedical research. And through strategic investments like the $113.7 million Battery-NY initiative, Hochul has fueled the growth of the sustainability, green technology, and energy storage economies in New York state.

GlobalFoundries recently announced an $11.6 billion investment to expand its chip manufacturing campus in New York’s Capitol Region, creating 1,500 direct jobs and thousands of indirect jobs. In 2022, Micron announced a 20-year, $100 billion investment to create a megafab campus in Central New York, creating 50,000 new direct and indirect jobs and unlocking hundreds of millions of dollars in community benefits. The governor’s life sciences initiative helped to solidify New York’s selection for the $300 million Chan Zuckerberg Biohub New York, a biomedical research hub in New York City, and significant investments from Schrödinger Inc., Deerfield Discovery and Development, and other life sciences businesses. Earlier this year, the National Science Foundation also announced a $160 million investment in Binghamton University’s New Energy New York Storage Engine to establish a hub for innovation, technology translation, and workforce development to grow the capacity of the domestic battery industry.

SUNY Chancellor John B. King Jr. said, “Thanks to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s vision and leadership, the Empire AI research center for the public good will be a game-changer for New York state, our consortium partners, and SUNY – including our four university centers: the University at Albany, Binghamton University, University at Buffalo and Stony Brook University. As AI is increasingly woven into more aspects of our society, Empire AI is perfectly positioned to grow New York state as a leader in artificial intelligence research and development, and we are especially thrilled that it will be hosted at the University at Buffalo.”

Tech:NYC President and Executive Director Julie Samuels said, “The investment in Empire AI will ensure that New York state remains a leader in safe, equitable and accessible AI research and development. We applaud Gov. Hochul’s leadership and commitment to centering emerging technologies here, and were grateful to discuss today the crucial impacts and advancements that AI will bring to industries and local economies statewide. We look forward to working closely with Gov. Hochul and those who joined us today as we move into the next phase of Empire AI.

Secunda said, “Empire AI is a visionary collaboration between public and private universities in New York, and an example of what can happen when you nurture the seeds of innovation. This first-in-the-nation, academically research-focused artificial intelligence computing center will grant researchers across the state access to essential computing resources, catalyzing innovation, and fostering the recruitment of global tech talent. Gov. Hochul's pivotal investment in AI research underscores New York's commitment to shaping the future, and serving as a national leader in AI.”

University at Buffalo SUNY Vice President for Research and Economic Development Venu Govindaraju said, “For four decades, the University at Buffalo has been breaking ground in artificial intelligence, establishing UB as a nationally and internationally recognized leader in the field. As we build on this impactful legacy as the home of Empire AI, we look forward to working with Gov. Hochul, our colleagues from SUNY, CUNY, private research universities and our philanthropic partners to harness the power of artificial intelligence for the public good. Thank you, Gov. Hochul, for your bold vision for New York state. We are honored and ready to serve as the home of Empire AI and to help position New York state at the forefront of the AI revolution.”

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