New York’s $275 Million Investment in AI Research: A Unique Initiative to Drive Innovation

Building the empire: New York Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat, seems to think that $275 million worth of state funds need to be directed toward AI research.
In her State of the State address, which will take place later today, Hochul is expected to announce the Empire AI program, which aims “to put New York at the forefront of the artificial intelligence landscape,” per a flattering New York Times writeup. It will use $275 million in public funds, along with $125 million in private funds, for a total price tag of $400 million.
A physical center will be built upstate, which researchers taking part in the consortium will be permitted to access, and the state will make “its own cloud computing infrastructure rather than building on top of existing platforms like Amazon or Google,” which would be “a logistically complicated endeavor that could also raise concerns about security and reliability,” per the Times.
“Access to the computing resources that power AI systems is prohibitively expensive and difficult to obtain,” says Hochul in a statement. “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 apparently fix this.
Color me skeptical. We’re already in a massive AI arms race, in which companies—OpenAI, Anthropic, Microsoft, Google—are competing to corner ever-larger swaths of the market. You mean to tell me that New York state employees are going to oversee the construction of a new physical center and cloud computing architecture, that this project will be completed on time, and that this new facility will in any way be competitive instead of lagging far behind existing players?
Trump’s “decision to attend is simultaneously a bid to jack up the political intensity around his court proceedings—which he has used to drive fundraising and as a rallying cry to his base—as well as a recognition that this fight may be a decisive legal battle,” reports Politico.
“Trump’s lawyers have argued that the broad legal immunity presidents are widely presumed to enjoy while in office extends to criminal cases filed against them after they leave office,” reports Politico. “They also contend that, because Trump was acquitted by the Senate after his 2021 impeachment over some of the same issues raised in the criminal case, he cannot be prosecuted”—a double jeopardy argument.
If immunity is not granted, a federal trial on election interference will take place. The decision could also be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Scenes from New York: Yesterday at 9:30 a.m., protesters shut down the Holland Tunnel, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge, and the Williamsburg Bridge, demanding a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
The New York City Police Department arrested 216 people and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey arrested 109.
“The point is disruption,” one protester, named Mon Mohapatra, told Gothamist. “We were trying to cause gridlock and traffic back-ups throughout downtown Manhattan at the same time.”
At what point do New Yorkers say enough? These people are unserious. They don’t appear to have jobs or families or industrious things to do at 9:30 a.m. on a Monday. The widespread masking signals either an authentic yet irrational fear of COVID, a performative gesture, or an interest in ensuring other people can’t identify who is in these viral videos. When they get arrested, do they ever actually get charged with anything? Do the consequences ever reach them?
Has adult activist—and I think we should call them that, because lots of people dabble in the theatrical arts while young, but it takes a special breed of do-nothing narcissists to do it as an adult—become an entirely separate aesthetic, distinct from its social justice warrior precursor form?

QUICK HITS

  • “District Attorney Fani Willis improperly hired an alleged romantic partner to prosecute Donald Trump and financially benefited from their relationship, according to a court motion filed Monday arguing the indictment was unconstitutional,” reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
  • A child should not be “the basis of a commercial contract” said Pope Francis on Monday, who called for a worldwide ban “to prohibit this practice universally.” Last year, he said that, though technology could be used to help with conception, “it is wrong to create test tube embryos and then suppress them, to trade in gametes and to resort to the practice of surrogate parenthood.”
  • “Substack has a Nazi problem” discourse has fallen apart:
  • Daniel Ortega’s regime has, over the last few weeks, imprisoned more than a dozen priests as part of a brutal crackdown on Catholicism in Nicaragua.
  • Incredible National Review headline: “Don’t even think about driving one mile above the speed limit.” The British busybodies provide a helpful preview if trying to understand what their American counterparts might go after next.
  • “As authorities and journalists scrambled to uncover information about the shooter who opened fire at an Iowa school on Thursday, far-right figures zeroed in on the likelihood that the assailant was LGBTQ,” writes Matt Lavietes for NBC News. (Unfortunately, I have thoughts on Lavietes’ piece.)
  • Yes: