The Future of Life Institute has announced grants totaling almost $7 million in support of thirty-seven research teams working to keep artificial intelligence robust and beneficial to humanity.
An increasing number of scientific and technological luminaries, including Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and Stephen Hawking, have voiced concerns about the possibility that increasingly powerful AI systems may lead to unintended and even disastrous consequences. FLI aims to catalyze and support research and initiatives for safeguarding human life and developing optimistic visions of the future, including positive ways for humanity to steer its own course against a backdrop of new technologies and challenges.
To that end, Musk committed $10 million to FLI in January. Nearly three hundred teams applied for that funding, with selected teams receiving up to three years of funding in support of efforts to examine questions in computer science, law, policy, economics, and other relevant fields. Among other things, the grants will support teams working to develop AI systems that learn what humans prefer from observing our behavior, ensure that the interests of super-intelligent systems are aligned with human values, create AI systems that explain their decisions to humans, and keep AI-driven weapon systems "under meaningful human control."
"In its early days, AI research focused on the 'known knowns' by working on problems such as chess...where everything about the world was known exactly," said Tom Dietterich, president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, which received a grant. "Starting in the 1980s, AI research began studying the 'known unknowns' by using probability distributions to represent and quantify the likelihood of alternative possible worlds. The FLI grant will launch work on the 'unknown unknowns': How can an AI system behave carefully and conservatively in a world populated by unknown unknowns — aspects that the designers of the AI system have not anticipated at all?"
For a complete list of grantees, visit the FLI website.