Sumary of How the National Science Foundation is taking on fairness in AI:
- Most of the public discourse around artificial intelligence (AI) policy focuses on one of two perspectives: how the government can support AI innovation, and how the government can deter its harmful or negligent use.
- Yet there can also be a role for government in making it easier to use AI beneficially—in this niche, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has found a way to contribute.
- Through a grant-making program called Fairness in Artificial Intelligence (FAI), the NSF is providing $20 million in funding to researchers working on difficult ethical problems in AI.
- The program, a collaboration with Amazon, has now funded 21 projects in its first two years, with an open call for applications in its third and final year.
- This is an important endeavor, furthering a trend of federal support for the responsible advancement of technology, and the NSF should continue this important line of funding for ethical AI.
- The FAI program is an investment in what the NSF calls “use-inspired research,” where scientists attempt to address fundamental questions inspired by real world challenges and pressing scientific limitations.
- Use-inspired research is an alternative to the traditional “basic research,” which attempts to make fundamental advances in scientific understanding without necessarily a specific practical goal.
- NSF is better known for basic research in computer science, where the NSF provides 87% of all federal basic research funding.