Tuesday, May 7, 2024
Foundations advance AI for good, safeguard against threats.

Foundations advance AI for good, safeguard against threats.

Technology experts have been expressing concerns about the rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI), but philanthropists, including foundations and tech billionaires, have responded by increasing their grants in this area. Much of the philanthropy focuses on “ethical AI,” which aims to address the harmful effects of AI systems. Some scientists believe that AI can be used to predict climate disasters and discover life-saving drugs, while others warn about the potential negative impacts such as the displacement of white-collar jobs, the spread of misinformation, and threats to national security.

The influence of philanthropy on the trajectory of AI is becoming clearer. Tech billionaires who have made their fortunes in technology are more likely to support projects and institutions that emphasize the positive outcomes of AI. On the other hand, foundations without significant tech endowments tend to focus more on the dangers of AI. For example, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and his wife Wendy Schmidt have committed hundreds of millions of dollars to AI grantmaking programs through Schmidt Futures. Their goal is to accelerate the scientific revolution driven by AI. Similarly, the Patrick McGovern Foundation, named after the late billionaire founder of the International Data Group, has made AI and data science a priority in its grantmaking. In 2021, the foundation committed $40 million to help nonprofits use AI and data to protect the planet, ensure economic prosperity, and promote healthy communities.

Salesforce, a software company, is also interested in supporting nonprofits in using AI. They recently announced a $2 million award to education, workforce, and climate organizations to advance the equitable and ethical use of trusted AI. Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, has funded research centers at Stanford University and the University of Toronto, believing that AI can improve humanity in areas like healthcare and education.

However, not all tech billionaires are enthusiastic about AI. EBay founder Pierre Omidyar, through his Omidyar Network, takes a mixed approach by making grants to nonprofits using AI for scientific innovation while also supporting efforts to protect data privacy and advocate for regulation. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has warned about the potential destruction of civilization from AI and has given $10 million to the Future of Life Institute to prevent existential risks associated with AI. The Open Philanthropy Foundation, started by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and his wife Cari Tuna, has provided significant support to the Center for AI Safety, which warns about the risk of extinction from AI.

Foundations also play a role in funding research on the ethical questions surrounding AI. The Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative, a joint project of the MIT Media Lab and Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center, has received $26 million in funding from philanthropic organizations. Their goal is to ensure that automation and machine learning technologies are developed and deployed in a way that upholds social values of fairness, human autonomy, and justice. The Kavli Foundation has also committed funding to two new centers focused on scientific ethics, with AI as one of the priority areas.

While philanthropy has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to ethical AI efforts, the challenge of influencing tech companies and governments remains significant. Philanthropy alone cannot match the resources and influence of these entities. However, foundation leaders, researchers, and advocates believe that philanthropy can shape the future of AI by supporting organizations that are pushing for accountability and considering the broader public interest.

This article originally appeared on The Chronicle of Philanthropy and was provided to The Associated Press.

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About Alex Chen

Alex Chen is a tech blogger based in Silicon Valley. He loves writing about the latest trends in the industry and sharing his insights with his readers. With years of experience in the field, Alex has built a loyal following of tech enthusiasts who appreciate his informative and engaging content. When he's not writing, Alex enjoys experimenting with new tech gadgets and exploring the vibrant tech scene in the Bay Area.

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