Last summer I sat down with Tom Secunda, who co-founded Bloomberg LP with Mike Bloomberg, to talk about areas of shared philanthropic interest. Tom told me that academic institutions do not have access to the kind of AI/ML infrastructure that the top tech companies have and he wanted to fix that. His idea was a consortium of Universities in New York State, the New York State Government, and philanthropic donors. His vision was a large shared facility in upstate NY with state-of-the-art AI/ML infrastructure that participating academic institutions could make available to their faculty for cutting-edge AI/ML research.
Tom is a convincing person. He convinced me that this was a good idea last summer and he went on to convince Governor Hochul and the top Universities in New York State and his fellow philanthropist Jim Simons.
I am glad Governor Hochul and her team were quick to recognize the promise of this idea. Today, Governor Hochul will announce Empire AI in her State of the State Address.
Empire AI will be a "state-of-the-art artificial intelligence computing center in Upstate New York to be used by New York's leading institutions to promote responsible research and development, create jobs, and unlock AI opportunities focused on public good."
Over $400mm of public and private funding has been committed over ten years to build and operate the Empire AI facility. New York State is contributing $275mm and over $125mm is coming from participating Universities and philanthropy.
I am excited to see New York State step up like this. Other states, like Massachusetts, have done something similar but this NYS effort is significantly larger. I expect more states will follow now. Cutting-edge AI/ML research should not be limited to large tech companies. We need our academic institutions to be on equal footing. This model, particularly if more states adopt it, can help make that possible.
New York is one of the leading AI centers in the US, along with California and Massachusetts. We see this every day as entrepreneurs building AI companies come knocking on our door. It is very encouraging to see our local government supporting and investing in this new area of economic development.
I want to congratulate Governor Hochul, the leaders of our academic institutions, and Tom Secunda, for their vision and initiative here. This is important.