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Google initiates the Digital Futures Project with $20 million in grants to support ‘responsible AI’

The Digital Futures Project seeks to include diverse perspectives in the development of artificial intelligence by addressing bias, fairness, and workforce impact.

Google has launched the Digital Futures Project today in anticipation of a confidential congressional meeting with tech companies to discuss artificial intelligence (AI) on Wednesday. The initiative includes a $20 million fund established by Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm, to provide grants to research organizations and universities working on AI.

AI has the potential to make our lives easier and address some of society’s most complex challenges — like preventing disease, making cities work better, and predicting natural disasters. But it also raises questions about fairness, bias, misinformation, security, and the future of work.

Brigitte Hoyer Gosselink, Director – Google.org

The Aspen Institute, the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Center for a New American Security, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Institute for Security and Technology, the Leadership Conference Education Fund, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Work of the Future, the R Street Institute, and SeedAI are among the first recipients of the $20 million fund, according to Gosselink.

Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Meta are just some of the top tech giants taking part in what has been dubbed a “AI arms race” to determine who can create the most effective, efficient, and cost-effective AI solutions. Investments in OpenAI and Google’s Bard, Vertex, and Duet AI platforms, among others, account for a portion of the company’s tens of billions of dollars in AI tool spending over the last decade.

The debut of the initiative coincides with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s “AI Forum” on September 13 in Washington, D.C., which will bring together the heads of some of the world’s greatest technological companies. Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and co-founder Bill Gates, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, and representatives from civil rights organizations are scheduled to attend.

Even more impressive than the gathering of CEOs from U.S. firms with a combined market value of over $6 trillion is the fact that it seems to be the first time Zuckerberg and Musk will be in the same room together since the cancellation of their much anticipated MMA bout.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Center for Countering Digital Hate, and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the United Kingdom have all sounded the alarm about the potential hazards and abuse of generative AI technology. Pope Francis’s Vatican has also commented on the new technology.

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