The “Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund” commits $7.6M to research “AI for the public interest”

A press release from the Knight Foundation and another from Omidyar Network highlight their joint effort with several other funders to commit $7.6M to be distributed across several international institutions to research “AI for the public interest”. This seems like an ambitious and interesting research programme, albeit located in the elite institutions one might unfortunately expect to hoover up this sort of funding… Nevertheless, it will be interesting to see what comes of this.

Here’s some snippets (see the full Knight Foundation PR here and the Omidyar PR here).

…a $27 million fund to apply the humanities, the social sciences and other disciplines to the development of AI.

The MIT Media Lab and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University will serve as founding academic institutions for the initiative, which will be named the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund. The fund will support a cross-section of AI ethics and governance projects and activities, both in the United States and internationally.

The fund seeks to advance AI in the public interest by including the broadest set of voices in discussions and projects addressing the human impacts of AI. Among the issues the fund might 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?

Supporting a Global Conversation

  • Digital Asia Hub (Hong Kong): Digital Asia Hub will investigate and shape the response to important, emerging questions regarding the safe and ethical use of artificial intelligence to promote social good in Asia and contribute to building the fund’s presence in the region. Efforts will include workshops and case studies that will explore the cultural, economic and political forces uniquely influencing the development of the technology in Asia.
  • ITS Rio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil): ITS Rio will translate international debates on artificial intelligence and launch a series of projects addressing how artificial intelligence is being developed in Brazil and in Latin America more generally. On behalf of the Global Network of Internet and Society Research Center, ITS Rio and the Berkman Klein Center will also co-host a symposium on artificial intelligence and inclusion in Rio de Janeiro, bringing together almost 80 centers and an international set of participants to address diversity in technologies driven by artificial intelligence, and the opportunities and challenges posed by it around the world.

Tackling Concrete Challenges

  • AI Now (New York): AI Now will undertake interdisciplinary, empirical research examining the integration of artificial intelligence into existing critical infrastructures, looking specifically at bias, data collection, and healthcare.
  • Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (Cambridge, United Kingdom): Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence will be focused on bringing together technical and legal perspectives to address interpretability, a topic made urgent by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation coming into force next year.
  • Access Now (Brussels, Belgium): Access Now will contribute to the rollout of the General Data Protection Regulation by working closely with data protection authorities to develop practical guidelines that protect user rights, and educate public and private authorities about rights relating to explainability. The organization will also conduct case studies on data protection issues relating to algorithms and artificial intelligence in France and Hungary.

Bolstering Interdisciplinary Work 

  • FAT ML (Global): FAT ML will host a researcher conference focused on developing concrete, technical approaches to securing values of fairness, accountability, and transparency in machine learning.
  • Data & Society (New York): Data & Society will conduct a series of ethnographically-informed studies of intelligent systems in which human labor plays an integral part, and will explore how and why the constitutive human elements of artificial intelligence are often obscured or rendered invisible. The research will produce empirical work examining these dynamics in order to facilitate the creation of effective regulation and ethical design considerations across domains.

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About the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund 

The Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund aims to support work around the world that advances the development of ethical artificial intelligence in the public interest, with an emphasis on applied research and education. The fund was launched in January 2017, with an initial investment of $27 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Omidyar Network, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, the Hewlett Foundation, and Jim Pallotta. The activities supported through the fund aim to address the global challenges of artificial intelligence from a multidisciplinary perspective–grounded in data, code, and academic analysis. The fund will advance the public understanding of artificial intelligence and support the creation of networks that span disciplines and topics related to artificial intelligence. The Miami Foundation is serving as fiscal sponsor for the fund.

Via Alexis Madrigral.

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