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Hochul Says Her AI Initiative Is the State’s New “Erie Canal”

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Governor Hochul, Industry Leaders and Advocates Celebrate Empire AI Consortium to Make New York a Global Leader in Artificial Intelligence
Susan Watts/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Governor Kathy Hochul today (on Tuesday) highlighted the state’s investment in artificial intelligence research, which was approved in the state budget earlier this month. She hopes it makes New York the next Silicon Valley. 

Hochul and state lawmakers approved $400 million dollars in public and private funds for the project known as Empire AI.  

“We have our Erie Canal moment right now,” Hochul said. “This is how significant this Empire AI initiative is..” 

It will fund the building of a large-scale AI computing center in New York that will be accessed by a consortium of leading universities, including Columbia, New York University, Cornell and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as well as those in the SUNY and CUNY systems.

Hochul says only the largest technology companies currently have the resources to create AI-related computers, giving them outsized control of the emerging technology.

She says a publicly built AI database offers access to researchers at universities, public interest organizations, and smaller tech companies, who might otherwise be left behind.

Hochul says it also has the potential to create thousands of good-paying jobs and revive the flagging upstate economy.

“The state, with the passage of our budget, now has the resources necessary to do something which is quite extraordinary,” the governor said. “To make available the super computing power of AI available to every student who wishes to avail themselves of it in the state of New York. This is a great equalizer. It is going to create great opportunities for jobs and commercialization, new jobs, new entrepreneurs.”

The state budget provides $275 million dollars in grants and other funding, while the remaining $125 million comes from private funding sources and the universities themselves, which are each contributing $25 million dollars.