Former Google boss Eric Schmidt has launched a $125m philanthropic fund to tackle so-called ‘hard problems’ in artificial intelligence including bias, harm and misuse, and conflict.
The new fund, AI2050, will back reseach projects over the next five years, with the fuunds being offered to individual academics who specialise in the space.
Schmidt will chair the fund and make funding decisions alongside Google’s new head of technology and society, James Manyika, who will be taking on the role in a personal capacity.
The new fund launches at a time when concerns are increasingly growing over the negative implications of AI on society, and Schmidt said that the fund would now work on solving some of the most pressing concerns in the field.
“A lot of people have expressed concerns [about AI] but very few people are working on solutions to them,” he told the Financial Times.
“If we can find the next generation of researchers who are perfectly timed to make discoveries in these areas, that’s a great outcome.”
Schmidt said that he wanted the fund to help society avoid some of the dangerous pitfalls that have arisen in the rapid take up of technologies like social media.
“I don’t think we understood the impact of society from social media — both the positive and the negative,” he said.
“And AI has the potential to have both a greater positive and negative impact, because of its ability to understand and target and change people’s behaviour, belief systems.”
Projects being funded include how AI can help measure and mitigate socio-economic inequality, and developing new, powerful algorithms called liquid neural networks, inspired by the human brain.