Ethics of machine learning algorithms has recently been raised as a major research concern. Earlier this year (2017), a fund of $27M USD was started to support research on the societal challenges of AI. The group responsible for the fund includes e.g. the Knight Foundation, Omidyar Network and the startup founder and investor Reid Hoffman.
As stated on the fund’s website, the fund will support a cross-section of AI ethics and governance projects and activities, both in the United States and internationally. They advocate cross-disciplinary research between e.g. computer scientists, social scientists, ethicists, philosophers, economists, lawyers and policymakers.
The fund lays out a list of areas they’re interested in funding. The list can be seen as a sort of a research agenda. The items are:
- Communicating complexity: How do we best communicate, through words and processes, the nuances of a complex field like AI?
- Ethical design: How do we build and design technologies that consider ethical frameworks and moral values as central features of technological innovation?
- Advancing accountable and fair AI: What kinds of controls do we need to minimize AI’s potential harm to society and maximize its benefits?
- Innovation in the public interest: How do we maintain the ability of engineers and entrepreneurs to innovate, create and profit, while ensuring that society is informed and that the work integrates public interest perspectives?
- Expanding the table: How do we grow the field to ensure that a range of constituencies are involved with building the tools and analyzing social impact?
As can be seen, the agenda emphasizes the big question: How can we maintain the benefits of the new technologies while making sure that their potential harm is minimized? To answer this question, a host of studies and perspectives is definitely needed. Read here a list of other initiatives working on the societal issues of AI and machine learning.