Ethics and Governance of AI Fund Awards $7.6 Million

The Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund has announced grants totaling $7.6 million in support of efforts to strengthen the voice of civil society in shaping the development of artificial intelligence.

Launched in January with initial funding totaling $27 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Omidyar Network, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and Raptor Group founder Jim Palotta, with the Miami Foundation serving as fiscal sponsor, the fund announced a grant of $5.9 million to the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the MIT Media Lab, the initiative's two anchor institutions, in support of their work in three areas — media and information quality, social and criminal justice, and autonomous vehicles. Projects funded by the grant will address issues such as the global governance of artificial intelligence and the ways in which the use of AI may reinforce existing biases, particularly against underserved and underrepresented populations.

Seven other organizations received grants totaling $1.7 million, including the Digital Asia Hub (Hong Kong), which will use the funds to investigate questions related to the safe and ethical use of AI to promote social good across Asia; ITS Rio (Brazil), which plans to translate international debates on artificial intelligence and address how it is being developed in Brazil and Latin America; AI Now (New York City), which will undertake interdisciplinary research into the integration of AI into existing critical infrastructures, with a focus on bias, data collection, and health care; the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (United Kingdom), which will focus on bringing together technical and legal perspectives around the issue of interpretability; Access Now (Belgium), which will support the rollout of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) with practical guidelines that protect user rights and help educate public and private authorities about rights related to explainability; FAT ML, which plans to host a conference focused on the development of technical approaches to securing the values of fairness, accountability, and transparency in machine learning; and Data & Society (New York), which will conduct ethnographically informed studies of intelligent systems in which human labor plays an integral part.

"This grant fuels continued collaboration between Berkman Klein and the Media Lab as we join others in breaking down the silos between technical research, public policy and law, and the social sciences in the machine-learning space," said Media Lab director Joi Ito. "This will include research on society's expectations for AI, efforts to engage the public on the governance of AI, and our work to bring industry into dialogue with the academy with efforts that will ultimately deploy working projects and systems."

"Artificial intelligence will affect every aspect of modern life," said Knight Foundation president Alberto Ibargüen. "The issues of ethics and governance of new and pervasive technology are complex and profound, and the work must not only involve technologists. This initial round of support, focused on the three areas of media, criminal justice and autonomous vehicles, is just a beginning."