White House to pour $200 million into data-mining technology

The Obama administration announced on Thursday it will invest $200 million to research new technologies to manage and sift through large volumes of digital data.

The administration said the investments could lead to breakthroughs in science, engineering, healthcare and national security. 

John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, compared the initiative to past government investments that led to advances in computing and the creation of the Internet.

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"The initiative we are launching today promises to transform our ability to use Big Data for scientific discovery, environmental and biomedical research, education, and national security,” Holdren said in a statement.

At a press conference, he explained that the world is creating trillions of gigabytes of data every year. With more effective ways to study and manage the available data, researchers could make important scientific discoveries, he said.

The National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Energy Department, the U.S. Geological Survey and the military's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) are all launching projects as part of the administration's initiative. The agencies will conduct research in areas such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, neuroscience and astronomy.

In a blog post, White House aide Tom Kalil said the administration is challenging private industry, research universities and nonprofits to join the research into new ways to collect valuable information from troves of data.

"Clearly, the government can’t do this on its own," Kalil wrote. "We need what the president calls an 'all hands on deck' effort." 

IBM praised the initiative in a statement.

"The Administration's work to advance research and funding of big data projects, in partnership with the private sector, will help federal agencies accelerate innovations in science, engineering, education, business and government," said David McQueeney, IBM's vice president of software.