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Accelerating A.I. innovation in agriculture

Accelerating A.I. innovation in agriculture

11 new research institutes backed by $220M investment from USDA-NIFA and NSF

By Ryan Ridley
Farms.com 

Agriculturalists who are looking to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) on their operations, whether it’s on the farm or within an agribusiness, are in luck – and in a big way.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) and the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) recently announced a $220 million investment into 11 new AI research institutes.

“In the tradition of USDA-NIFA investments, these new institutes leverage the scientific power of U.S. land-grant universities informed by close partnership with farmers, producers, educators, and innovators to provide sustainable crop production solutions and address these pressing societal challenges,” says Dr. Carrie Castille, USDA-NIFA Director. “These innovation centers will speed our ability to meet critical needs in the future agricultural workforce, providing equitable and fair market access, increasing nutrition security and providing tools for climate-smart agriculture.”

The USDA-NIFA and NSF aligned with Google, Amazon, Intel, Accenture, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to achieve its investment goals.

This funding will bring many AI advancements into the agriculture sector including:

•    AI: Human-AI Interaction and Collaboration
•    AI for Advances in Optimization
•    AI and Advanced Cyberinfrastructure
•    AI in Computer and Network Systems
•    AI in Dynamic Systems
•    AI-Augmented Learning
•    AI-Drive Innovation in Agriculture and the Food System

The latest $220 million investment follows the first round of investments that took place in 2020, totaling $140 million into seven AI Research Institutes.

“I am delighted to announce the establishment of new NSF National AI Research Institutes as we look to expand into all 50 states,” said National Science Foundation Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. “These institutes are hubs for academia, industry and government to accelerate discovery and innovation in AI. Inspiring talent and ideas everywhere in this important area will lead to new capabilities that improve our lives from medicine to entertainment to transportation and cybersecurity and position us in the vanguard of competitiveness and prosperity.”

The 11 new AI Research Institutes includes:

The USDA-NIFA Institute for Agricultural AI for Transforming Workforce and Decision Support (AgAID)

This institute will integrate AI methods into agriculture operations for prediction, decision support, and robotics-enabled agriculture to address complex ag challenges related to labor, weather, water, and climate change, led by Washington State University.

The USDA-NIFA AI Institute for Resilient Agriculture (AIIRA)

This institute will work to transform agriculture through AI-driven digital twins that model plants at an unprecedented scale enabled by advancements in computational theory, AI algorithms, and tools for crop improvement and production resiliency to climate change – led by Iowa State University.

NSF AI Institute for Collaborative Assistance and Responsive Interaction for Networked Groups (AI-CARING)

Not specific to agriculture, this institute is tasked with creating a fully developed discipline focused on personalized, longitudinal collaborative AI systems that learn individual models of human behavior and how they change over time, led by Georgia Institute of Technology.

NSF AI Institute for Advances in Optimization

This institute is looking to revolutionize large-scale decision-making by fusing AI and mathematical optimization into intelligent systems, led by Georgia Institute of Technology. It will make foundational advances on use cases in energy, sustainability, supply chains, and circuit design and control.

NSF AI Institute for Learning-Enabled Optimization at Scale (TILOS)

This institute aims to “make impossible optimizations possible” by addressing scale and complexity challenges. Learning-enabled optimization will be applied in several technical areas including semiconductor chip design, robotics, and networks. This institute is led by the University of California San Diego in collaboration with five universities across the United States.

NSF AI Institute for Intelligent Cyberinfrastructure with Computational Learning in the Environment (ICICLE)

This institute is tasked with building the next generation of cyberinfrastructure making it easier for scientists to use and promote its further democratization. ICICLE will transform the AI landscape by creating a robust, trustworthy, and transparent ‘plug-and-play’ national cyberinfrastructure to be used in precision agriculture and animal ecology. This institute is led by Ohio State University.

NSF AI Institute for Future Edge Networks and Distributed Intelligence (AI-EDGE)

This institute, led by Ohio State University, will leverage synergies between networking and AI to design future generations of wireless edge networks that are highly efficient, reliable, robust, and secure.

NSF AI Institute for Edge Computing Leveraging Next-generation Networks (Athena)

While keeping complexity and costs under control, this institute led by Duke University will develop edge computing with AI functionality. With collaboration between leading scientists, statisticians, and engineers, this institute will transform the design, operation, and service of future systems from mobile devices to networks.

NSF AI Institute for Dynamic Systems

This institute will enable innovative research and education in fundamental AI and machine learning theory, algorithms, and applications specifically for real-time learning and control of complex dynamic systems. This institute is led by the University of Washington.

NSF AI Institute for Engaged Learning

This institute, which is led by North Carolina State University, will advance natural language processing, machine learning, and computer vision to build narrative-centered learning environments, embodied conversational agents, and multimodal learning analytics to yield transformative advances in STEM teaching and learning.

NSF AI Institute for Adult Learning and Online Education (ALOE)

This institute will also advance natural language processing, machine learning, and computer vision to engage learners in AI-driven learning environments. This institute, led by North Caroline State University, will serve as a hub for STEM education innovation.

This article is featured in the September edition of the Farms.com Precision Agriculture Digital Digest – check it out here.

Photo: iStock / Getty Images Plus-Igor Borisenko


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