The Future of Life Institute, a volunteer-run research and outreach organization working to mitigate existential risks faced by humanity, has announced a gift of $10 million from inventor Elon Musk to establish a global research program aimed at keeping artificial intelligence beneficial to human beings.
Administered by FLI, the research program will provide support to AI researchers, with funding also directed toward AI-related research in fields such as economics, law, ethics, and policy. In addition, the program will support meetings and outreach programs involving AI researchers, industry developers, and other key constituents.
"Hopefully, this grant program will help shift our focus from building things just because we can toward building things because they are good for us in the long term," said FLI co-founder Meia Chita-Tegmark.
According to the organization, there is broad consensus that AI research is progressing steadily and that its influence on society is likely to increase. Recently, Musk joined hundreds of other scientists and intellectuals in signing an open letter outlining a set of recommendations for AI research. While popular films and pundits have expressed concern that such technology could be misused, Musk's gift aims, in part, to ensure that AI systems remain robust and beneficial as researchers investigate safe and ethical uses for them.
"Building advanced AI is like launching a rocket," said Skype founder Jaan Tallinn, who co-founded FLI. "The first challenge is to maximize acceleration, but once it starts picking up speed, you also need to focus on steering."