Click on the image below to go to the new Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative website:

What is the goal of the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund?

AI is shaping everything from the music we hear, the web pages and news stories suggested to us, the loans for which we qualify, whether taxi cabs are nearby, the way our cars drive, and the way we work. These things—culture, political discourse, where we live and how we get around, and the work we do—define us as engaged and fulfilled human beings. How AI develops is not just a computer science issue, but it is something that will affect us in deeply human ways. For that reason, the development of AI must be a joint, human endeavor, bridging computer scientists, engineers, social scientists, ethicists, philosophers, faith leaders, economists, lawyers and policymakers. 

The goal of the Ethics and Governance of AI Fund is to support work around the world that advances the development of ethical AI in the public interest, with an emphasis on applied research and education. The fund was launched on January 10, 2017, with an initial investment of $27 million. The activities supported through this fund will aim to bridge the gap between the humanities and social sciences with computing by addressing the global challenges of AI from a multidisciplinary perspective—grounded in data, code, and rigorous academic analysis. In addition, the work supported by the fund will advance the public understanding of artificial intelligence and enable the creation of networks that span disciplines and topics related to artificial intelligence.

Who is involved in the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund?

The Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund is intended to support work around the world that advances the development of AI in the public interest. The principals of the fund are:

  • Alberto Ibarguen, president, Knight Foundation 

  • Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn founder and partner, Greylock Partners 

  • Pierre Omidyar, founding partner, Omidyar Network

  • Joichi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, and Tenzin Priyadarshi, director of the Ethics Initiative at the MIT Media Lab

  • Urs Gasser, executive director, and Jonathan Zittrain, faculty chair, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

  • Danielle Citron, Morton & Sophia Macht Professor of Law at the University of Maryland

This effort will be strengthened by the addition of diverse voices and perspectives, and we are committed to expanding the principals group and meaningfully engaging people of different backgrounds, culture, experience, national origin, gender, race, and more across this initiative. 

How does this initiative differ from the other AI initiatives that have been announced over the last year?

AI is a hot issue today, and many initiatives from the public to the private sectors have conducted significant work over the past year. Important contributions have recently come from a variety of perspectives, including the White House, Data & Society, the Partnership on AI, AI100, and AI Now. We believe there is room for all of these different approaches and perspectives; AI is a critical area of research, and there are many unanswered questions to explore and debate. We look forward to collaborating with many of these other initiatives over the coming years. At the outset, we are excited to work with AI Now on the planning of an exciting public event on July 10, 2017, and we will continue to build bridges and networks across other initiatives going forward.

We believe we can add something unique to the growing AI ecosystem through supporting unbiased, sustained, evidenced-based, solution-oriented work that cuts across disciplines and sectors. Grounding this initiative at two anchor academic institutions (the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University and the MIT Media Lab), will enable us to bring together a diversity of voices and perspectives that might not be possible with industry-driven or other efforts. For example, our research partners will include members of the Global Network of Internet and Society Research Centers. And we will work with a diverse advisory board of experts to help our initiative identify research areas and funding opportunities, and to recruit an inaugural class of joint AI Fellows.

What kinds of projects will the initiative support?

We expect the first year of the fund to be experimental and iterative, supporting a variety of collaborative projects that explore the societal challenges of AI through unique interdisciplinary activities. For example, the initiative will support an inaugural class of joint AI Fellows across the Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab, an AI-themed version of the “Assembly” program, this summer’s AI Now public event, and a variety of other spaces that convene and enable innovative collaborations across a diverse and impactful network of people and institutions who are working to steer AI in a way that maximizes the benefits to society.

Can I apply for funding for my AI project?

We welcome public engagement in the research projects taking place across the Berkman Klein Center, the MIT Media Lab, and other planned research partners. Currently, we are not planning an open call for funding, but we welcome discussions with all institutions and individuals engaging in research relating to developing ethical AI in the public interest. Please send questions to [email protected].

What is the role of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the MIT Media Lab in this initiative?

The MIT Media Lab and the Berkman Klein Center at Harvard University serve as the founding anchor institutions for this initiative. Working together, they will collaborate on unbiased, sustained, evidenced-based, solution-oriented work that cuts across disciplines and sectors.  These two institutions have immense experience crossing boundaries and disciplines to incubate disruptive ideas and technologies. For example, the Media Lab has developed the Moral Machine platform, which has collected 2.5 million responses from individuals expressing their expectations about how an autonomous vehicle should behave when faced with a choice between saving passengers or certain pedestrians. And the Berkman Klein Center develops public interest-oriented solutions to many of the challenges of the digital age, incubating programs such as Creative Commons and the Digital Public Library of America. And the two institutions are currently collaborating on the “Assembly” program, which gathers high-level developers and tech industry professionals for a rigorous three-week course at Harvard University, followed by a 12-week collaborative development period to explore difficult problems in cybersecurity.

The Media Lab and the Berkman Klein Center will work with the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund to include a range of diverse voices to help us better understand and address the human impacts of AI. 

Why is the fund housed at the Miami Foundation, and what is the foundation’s connection to this initiative?

The Miami Foundation is a philanthropic organization that works to improve the quality of life in Greater Miami. The Miami Foundation also provides a variety of philanthropic administrative services, such as fund oversight by financial experts, stewardship assistance, and many other functions. It has significant experience in managing funds on behalf of other organizations, including the Knight Foundation. This significant experience will enable the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund to focus on supporting and enabling innovative research, while the Miami Foundation handles the day-to-day administration of the fund.

How can I learn more about the work being done?

A short series of launch videos is available on the Knight Foundation, MIT Media Lab, and Berkman Klein Center websites. Blog posts, additional videos and information about new research projects will be added over the coming weeks. Check back frequently for more information.