Creating a National Research Cloud (Law 807Z)

The productive interplay between federal government, research universities, and private enterprise has given rise to an American innovation engine that is the envy of the world. But with respect to artificial intelligence, the American research prowess that’s powered decades of growth and prosperity is at risk. There are two reasons: public researchers’ lack of access to compute power and the scarcity of meaningful datasets, the two prerequisites for advanced AI research.

To address this problem, in 2020 the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) issued a call for the government to create a National Research Cloud (NRC), a close partnership between academia, government, and industry to provide academic researchers with affordable access to high-end computational resources, to large-scale government-held datasets in a secure cloud environment, and to the necessary expertise to benefit from this resource. Congress has responded to this call with its proposed National AI Research Resource Task Force Act of 2020.

Investigating possible ways to implement the NRC according to the proposed legislation, the practicum research team will work closely with scholars at HAI to (1) propose ways to power the NRC with rich and easily-usable datasets while complying with important legal issues such as data privacy; and (2) recommend the proper level of government involvement in building and administering the NRC. The research team will draw from student expertise and familiarity with law, computer science, engineering, economics, and other interdisciplinary fields. Student researchers will conduct interviews with private sector tech companies, public sector administrative officials, and academic researchers. Students will also research adjacent federal policies and agencies that seek to stimulate innovation through similar or other means.

This practicum will run winter and spring terms with preference for students who can enroll for both quarters. The project seeks students with law, engineering, computer science, economic, and policy backgrounds.

The deliverable for this policy practicum will be a public report on behalf of HAI to architect the structure of a federally backed cloud and the design of the data commons. The report will be delivered to the potential federal task force for designing the National Research Cloud, with broad implications for the AI innovation ecosystem.

Course Catalog


Daniel E. Ho 4

Daniel E. Ho

  • William Benjamin Scott and Luna M. Scott Professor of Law
  • Professor of Political Science
  • Senior Fellow, Stanford Institute for Economic and Policy Research
  • Associate Director, Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI)
  • Director of the Regulation, Evaluation, and Governance Lab (RegLab)

Clients & Deliverables

Client: Stanford Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI)

Deliverables: Public report focused on the structure of a federally backed cloud and design of the data commons

How to Apply

Student applications are by consent of the instructor. Please apply at