Tech luminaries team up on US$27M AI ethics fund

Maybe this will help stall the killer robots

Artificial intelligence technology is becoming an increasingly large part of our daily lives. While those developments have led to cool new features, they've also presented a host of potential problems, like automation displacing human jobs, and algorithms providing biased results.

Now, a team of philanthropists and tech luminaries have put together a fund that's aimed at bringing more humanity into the AI development process. It's called the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, and it will focus on advancing AI in the public interest.

A fund such as this one is important as issues arise during AI development. The IEEE highlighted a host of potential issues with artificial intelligence systems in a recent report, and the fund seems aimed at funding solutions to several of those problems.

Its areas of focus include research into the best way to communicate the complexity of AI technology, how to design ethical intelligent systems, and ensuring that a range of constituencies is represented in the development of these new AI technologies.

The fund was kicked off with help from Omidyar Network, the investment firm created by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar; the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman; The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and Jim Pallotta, founder of the Raptor Group.

"As a technologist, I'm impressed by the incredible speed at which artificial intelligence technologies are developing," Omidyar said in a press release. "As a philanthropist and humanitarian, I'm eager to ensure that ethical considerations and the human impacts of these technologies are not overlooked."

Hoffman, a former executive at PayPal, has shown quite the interest in developing AI in the public interest and has also provided backing to OpenAI, a research organization aimed at helping create AI that is as safe as possible.

The fund will work with educational institutions, including the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and the MIT Media Lab. The fund has US$27 million to spend at this point, and more investors are expected to join in.

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Blair Hanley Frank

IDG News Service
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