New Fund Aimed at Teaching Morals to AI

Friday, 13 January 2017 - 7:10PM
Artificial Intelligence
Friday, 13 January 2017 - 7:10PM
New Fund Aimed at Teaching Morals to AI
A new 27 million dollar fund aimed at teaching AI religion, morality, and ethics has been collected from a group of high-profile investors. MIT media lab and the Berkman Kein Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard will serve as hubs for the initiative, which is dubbed the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund. The purpose of the fund is to apply the humanities, social sciences, and other non-technologically based fields to push the development of AI in a more positive and conscious direction. 

Reid Hoffman, founder of LinkedIn, as well as eBay founder Pierre Omidyar each committed $10 million, while the Knight Foundation, a non-profit which supports areas like journalism, pledged $5 mil. "As a technologist, I'm impressed by the incredible speed at which artificial intelligence technologies are developing," Omidyar said on the Knight Foundation's website. "As a philanthropist and humanitarian, I'm eager to ensure that ethical consideration and the human impacts of these technologies are not overlooked."

Joi Ito, director the MIT Media Lab, agrees that in a world where humans are full of nuances and biases, we need to be careful to keep AI running efficiently and harmlessly in those systems.


Opening quote
"AI's rapid development bring along a lot of tough challenges. For example, one of the most critical challenges is how do we make sure that the machines we 'train' don't perpetuate and amplify the same human biases that plague society? How can we best initiate a broader, in-depth discussion about how society will co-evolve with this technology, and connect computer science and social sciences to develop intelligent machines that are not only 'smart,' but also socially responsible?"
Closing quote

The fund seeks to answer these questions by focusing on several very specific issues such as communicating complexity, ethical design, advancing accountable and fair AI, innovation in the public interest, and growing the field. The goal is to collaborate with existing efforts in AI development in ethics and morality, and pursue cross-disciplinary development both within the US and internationally. 

"A lot of our work in this area will be to identify and cultivate technologies and practices that promote human autonomy and dignity rather than diminish it," explains Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Klein Center and Professor of Law and Computer at Harvard University. 

For more info, check out the Knight Foundation's Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund FAQ.

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