Fund establishes a global initiative to advance research for the public good.
copyright by MIT
The MIT Media Lab and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University will serve as the founding anchor institutions for a new initiative aimed at bridging the gap between the humanities, the social sciences, and computing by addressing the global challenges of () from a multidisciplinary perspective.
“ agents will impact every part of our lives in every society on Earth. Technology and commerce will see to that,” says Alberto Ibargüen, president and CEO of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which is among those supporting the initiative.
The fund’s mission
Initially funded with $27 million from the Knight Foundation; LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman; the Omidyar Network; the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and Jim Pallotta, founder of the Raptor Group, the Ethics and Governance of Fund’s mission is to catalyze global research that advances for the public interest, with an emphasis on applied research and education. The fund will also seek to advance public understanding of .
“’s rapid development brings along a lot of tough challenges,” explains Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab. “For example, one of the most critical challenges is how do we make sure that the machines we ‘train’ don’t perpetuate and amplify the same human biases that plague society? How can we best initiate a broader, in-depth discussion about how society will co-evolve with this technology, and connect computer science and social sciences to develop intelligent machines that are not only ‘smart,’ but also socially responsible?”
Why this initiative?
What makes this new initiative different and necessary is that it’s aimed at transcending barriers and breaking down silos among disciplines. As founding academic institutions, the Media Lab and Berkman Klein Center, along with other potential collaborators from the public and private sectors, will act as a mechanism to reinforce cross-disciplinary work and encourage intersectional peer dialogue and collaboration.
The fund — projected to operate with a phased approach over the next several years — will complement and collaborate with existing efforts and communities, such as the upcoming public symposium “ Now,” which is scheduled for July 10 at the MIT Media Lab. The fund will also oversee an fellowship program, identify and provide support for collaborative projects, build networks out of the people and organizations currently working to steer in directions that help society, and also convene a “brain trust” of experts in the field.