Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, and eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s non-profit are spending a fortune funding academic research and development aimed at keeping artificial intelligence systems ethical.
The fund received an additional $5 million from the Knight Foundation and two other $1 million donations from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Jim Pallotta, founder of the Raptor Group. The $27 million reserve is being anchored by MIT’s Media Lab and Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.
While the project acknowledges that AI has its uses they are worried that things can go wrong. The most critical challenge is making sure that machines are not trained to perpetuate and amplify the same human biases that plague society.
The money will pay for research to investigate how socially responsible artificially intelligent systems can be designed to, say, keep computer programs that are used to make decisions in fields like education, transportation and criminal justice accountable and fair.
The group wants to talk with the public about and foster understanding of the complexities of artificial intelligence. The two universities will form a governing body along with Hoffman and the Omidyar Network to distribute the funds.