Harvard, Mit Get $27m To Research Artificial Intelligence For The Public Interest

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Omidyar Network are anchoring a newly formed $27 million fund to support research into the social impacts of AI.

LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Omidyar Network anchor a newly formed $27 million fund to support research into the social impacts of artificial intelligence.

Hoffman and Omidyar are each kicking in $10 million to get the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund started. 

Awards will be made from the fund to support a global cross-section of research aimed at applying the humanities, social sciences and other disciplines to the development of AI for the public interest. 

Technology and commerce will see to that,” Alberto Ibargüen, president of the Knight Foundation, said today in a news release announcing the fund’s establishment.

“Since even algorithms have parents, and those parents have values that they instill in their algorithmic progeny, we want to influence the outcome by ensuring ethical behavior, and governance that includes the interests of the diverse communities that will be affected,” Ibargüen said. 

The announcement lists the following as issues the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund will seek to address:

- Communicating complexity: How do we best communicate, through words and processes, the nuances of a complex field like AI?

- Ethical design: How do we build and design technologies that consider ethical frameworks and moral values as central features of technological innovation?

- Advancing accountable and fair AI: What kinds of controls do we need to minimize AI’s potential harm to society and maximize its benefits?

- Innovation in the public interest: How do we maintain the ability of engineers and entrepreneurs to innovate, create and profit, while ensuring that society is informed and that the work integrates public interest perspectives?

- Expanding the table: How do we grow the field to ensure that a range of constituencies are involved with building the tools and analyzing social impact?

“One of the most critical challenges is how do we make sure that the machines we ‘train’ don’t perpetuate and amplify the same human biases that plague society,”said Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab.   “How can we best initiate a broader, in-depth discussion about how society will co-evolve with this technology, and connect computer science and social sciences to develop intelligent machines that are not only ‘smart,’ but also socially responsible?”

The White House even pointed out racism in AI in an official report in October, and we can’t forget the disaster that was Tay, Microsoft’s AI chatbot meant to learn from Twitter, which ended up being baited into sending out racist tweets.


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