US, Japan announce joint AI research projects funded by Nvidia, Microsoft, others

Not that $110M will go very far, mind

The Japanese and US governments have announced new academic AI partnerships that are getting a $110 million cash infusion from Nvidia, Microsoft, and a group of Japanese firms.

The deal, announced to coincide with a state visit to the US by Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida, will see the University of Washington pairing up with the University of Tsukuba, while Carnegie Mellon University will be joining forces with Tokyo's Keio University. Nvidia, Amazon, Arm, Softbank, Microsoft, and nine unspecified Japanese companies will be contributing $110 million to fund the effort.

Carnegie Mellon and Keio University will be focusing their research efforts on "multimodal and multi-lingual learning, embodied AI or AI for robots, autonomous AI symbiosis with humans, life sciences, and AI for scientific discovery," the US embassy in Japan said. Carnegie Mellon president Farnham Jahanian described the endeavor as advancing "AI innovation on a global scale."

The Washington-Tsukuba partnership will capitalize on both universities' locations "in science and technology hubs," the US embassy in Japan said. The universities are located in Seattle, home of Amazon and Microsoft, and Tsukuba, which the Japanese government designated in 2022 as a science and tech hub.

The University of Washington said it will split $50 million with the University of Tsukuba, with Nvidia and Amazon each investing $25 million in the endeavor. UW said its work with Tsukuba will involve "furthering research, entrepreneurship, workforce development and social implementation" in the AI field.

"We applaud the establishment of $110 million in new AI research partnerships," US President Joe Biden and PM Kishida said in a joint statement covering various aspects of the state visit. "We are committed to further advancing the Hiroshima AI Process and strengthening collaboration between the national AI Safety Institutes."

Speaking of Seattle, Kishida visited Microsoft bosses while in the US, after which the company announced a $2.9 billion investment over two years to increase its hyperscale cloud computing and AI infrastructure in Japan.

The new AI partnerships are the third wave of university-corporate initiatives between US and Japanese firms that begin with Biden and Kishida committing to joint investments in science and tech research.

The UPWARDS program launched last year and saw Micron and other firms invest in a semiconductor industry workforce development project with several US and Japanese universities (including the University of Washington). IBM, the University of Chicago, and the University of Tokyo also partnered on a joint quantum computing project last year as well. ®

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