Artificial intelligence. Despite, or perhaps because of, the great strides made in the field of AI in recent years, for many people, the words still conjure up images of a “Terminator”-like sci-fi dystopia where sentient machines are mercilessly hunting humans down. These potential misgivings about what an AI-dominated world would be like are not alleviated when the likes of Stephen Hawking warn AI “could spell the end of the human race.”
In order to address concerns related to ethics and safety of AI, a group led by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and the Omidyar network — an investment firm set up by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar — announced the creation of a $27 million research fund called the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund.
In a statementreleased Tuesday, the Knight Foundation — the U.S. nonprofit that’s also involved in the initiative — said that in addition to researching the development of AI from a humanities and social sciences point of view, the fund will also support AI ethics and governance projects, both in the U.S. and internationally.
“Artificial intelligence agents will impact our lives in every society on Earth. Technology and commerce will see to that,” Alberto Ibargüen, president of Knight Foundation, said in the statement. “Since even algorithms have parents and those parents have values that they instill in their algorithmic progeny, we want to influence the outcome by ensuring ethical behavior, and governance that includes the interests of the diverse communities that will be affected.”
Of the $27 million, Hoffman and Omidyar Network each committed $10 million, while the Knight Foundation pledged $5 million.