Blackstone chief executive Stephen Schwarzman has donated £150m to the University of Oxford for the creation of a department to study the ethics of artificial intelligence.
The gift is the largest single donation to the university since the Renaissance.
The Stephan A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities will house the Institute for Ethics in AI, which will investigate the implications of the technology and other new developments.
In a statement today the university said it would help address “urgent” questions over the impact of AI, which it said will “challenge the very nature of what it means to be human”.
Schwarzman, who co-founded the world’s largest alternative investment firm, said: “For nearly 1,000 years, the study of the Humanities at Oxford has been core to western civilisation and scholarship.
“We need to ensure that its insights and principles can be adapted to today’s dynamic world. Oxford’s longstanding global leadership in the Humanities uniquely positions it to achieve this important objective.”
English, history, languages, music and philosophy courses will be taught in the new centre, which will also include a library and performing arts and exhibition spaces.
Professor Louise Richardson, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said: “This generous donation from Stephen A. Schwarzman marks a significant endorsement of the value of the Humanities in the 21st century and in Oxford University as the world leader in the field.
“The new Schwarzman Centre will open a vibrant cultural programme to the public and will enable Oxford to remain at the forefront of both research and teaching while demonstrating the critical role the Humanities will play in helping human society navigate the technological changes of the 21st century.”