Google has announced the launch of a new initiative and funding commitment aimed at spurring research and dialogue around the responsible development of AI.
Dubbed the Digital Futures Project, Google has earmarked $20 million to provide grants to leading think tanks and academic institutions globally that are examining the impacts of AI. The project represents Google's latest effort to help shape the ongoing public policy debate around the emerging technology.
Through the new initiative, Google's philantropic arm, Google.org will distribute grants to support independent research into AI's effects on areas like security, labor, and governance. Initial recipients include organizations such as the Aspen Institute, MIT Work of the Future, and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
In a statement, Google said the Digital Futures Project intends to "bring together a range of voices to promote efforts to understand and address the opportunities and challenges of artificial intelligence."
The launch highlights growing recognition that realizing the benefits of AI while mitigating risks will require substantial collaboration between companies, researchers, and policymakers. Google's principles for AI development, published in 2018, outlined commitments in areas like fairness, transparency, and accountability.
With rapid AI advances raising pressing questions around bias, economic impacts, and other issues, Google appears intent on spurring further study to inform solutions. The Digital Futures Project fund aims to support a diversity of perspectives on topics like AI's influence on jobs, productivity, security, and appropriate governance.
The drive for responsible AI is undoubtedly a multi-faceted endeavor, demanding the contribution of various stakeholders. While tech companies like Google possess considerable AI resources and expertise, objective analysis from external experts and institutions will likely prove critical in mapping out policies for emerging technologies.
By funding independent research, Google's new initiative aims to advance understanding of how society can maximize benefits and minimize harms as AI becomes more integrated across industries.