$27 Million Fund Launched to Explore Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

$27 Million Fund Launched to Explore Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, in partnership with Omidyar Network, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman,  the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University, have announced a $27 million fund to advance the development of ethical artificial intelligence in the public interest.

With the MIT Media Lab and Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society as its anchor institutions, the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund will support projects in the United States and abroad that apply the humanities, social sciences, and other disciplines to the development of AI. Omidyar Network and Hoffman, who committed $10 million each, and the Knight Foundation, which committed $5 million, will form a governing board with the Media Lab and  Berkman Klein Center to distribute awards and facilitate other activities. In addition, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Jim Pallotta, founder of the Raptor Group, have each committed $1 million to the fund.

To be housed at the Miami Foundation, the fund will support a variety of efforts and initiatives, including a joint fellowship program for people working to keep human issues at the forefront of AI; the convening of people and institutions working to maximize the benefits of AI; and expert research on AI's implications. Issues to be addressed may include how to design and build technologies that consider ethical frameworks and moral values as central features of technological innovation; the types of controls needed to minimize AI's potential harm to society; and how to enable engineers and entrepreneurs to innovate, create, and profit while ensuring that society is informed about those activities and that the work takes into account public interest perspectives.

"As a technologist, I'm impressed by the incredible speed at which artificial intelligence technologies are developing," said Omidyar Network founding partner Pierre Omidyar. "As a philanthropist and humanitarian, I'm eager to ensure that ethical considerations and the human impacts of these technologies are not overlooked. Omidyar Network is participating in the fund to ensure that critical areas like ethics, accountability, and governance, are considered from the earliest stages of design."

"Knight Foundation, Omidyar Network and LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman Create $27 Million Fund to Research Artificial Intelligence for the Public Interest." John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Omidyar Network, and Reid Hoffman Press Release 01/10/2017. "MIT Media Lab to Participate in $27 Million Initiative on AI Ethics and Governance." Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press Release 01/10/2017.