Facebook is hoping to advance ethics research regarding AI

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and the Technical University of Munich are joining forces on the creation of an independent ethics research center for artificial intelligence.

The social network will provide $7.5 million in funding over five years for the Institute for in Artificial Intelligence, with director of applied machine learning Joaquin Quiñonero Candela saying in a Newsroom post that the aim is to advance the growing field of ethical research on new technology and to study the fundamental issues that are specific to the use and impact of AI.

Candela called TUM one of the world’s top-ranked universities in the AI field, saying that the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence will tap into the school’s work in subjects such as robotics, machine intelligence and the social implications of AI.

He added that Germany’s creation of government-led ethical guidelines on autonomous driving and its work with European institutions on ethical frameworks for AI will also benefit the center.

TUM Prof. Christoph Lütge will lead the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence, working with “a diverse advisory board of representatives from academia, civil society and industry.” He holds degrees in business informatics and philosophy.

Lütge said, “We will explore the ethical issues of AI and develop ethical guidelines for the responsible use of the technology in society and the economy. Our evidence-based research will address issues that lie at the interface of technology and human values. Core questions arise around trust, privacy, fairness or inclusion—for example, when people leave data traces on the internet or receive certain information by way of algorithms. We will also deal with transparency and accountability—for example, in medical treatment scenarios, or with rights and autonomy in human decision-making in situations of human-AI interaction.”

Candela said Facebook may also share insights, tools and industry expertise on topics such as algorithmic bias, adding that the Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence will explore funding opportunities from entities other than Facebook, and it will seek to publish research, work with other experts, organize events (conferences, symposia and workshops) and create educational activities with other institutions.

He concluded, “Realizing AI’s huge potential for good while balancing its risks is a global effort, and it will not be accomplished overnight. The Institute is an exciting step forward in our continued commitment to partnering with academic institutions, governments, NGOs (nongovernmental organizations), advocacy and industry groups, and others who are working to advance AI in a safe and responsible way.”

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