The Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and the MIT Media Lab will serve as the founding anchor institutions for a new initiative aimed at bridging the gap between the humanities, the social sciences, and computing by addressing the global challenges of artificial intelligence from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Initially funded with $27 million from the Knight Foundation; LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman; the Omidyar Network; the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; and Jim Pallotta, founder of the Raptor Group, the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund’s mission is to catalyze global research that advances AI for the public interest, with an emphasis on applied research and education. The fund will also seek to advance public understanding of AI.

Artificial intelligence and complex algorithms, fueled by the collection of big data and deep learning systems, are quickly changing how we live and work, from the news stories we see, to the loans for which we qualify, to the jobs we perform. Because of this pervasive impact, it is imperative that AI research and development be shaped by a broad range of voices—not only by engineers and corporations—but also social scientists, ethicists, philosophers, faith leaders, economists, lawyers, and policymakers.

To address this challenge, several foundations and funders announced this week the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, which will support interdisciplinary research to ensure that AI develops in a way that is ethical, accountable, and advances the public interest. The Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab  work together to strengthen existing and form new interdisciplinary human networks and institutional collaborations, and serve as a collaborative platform where stakeholders working across disciplines, sectors, and geographies can meet, engage, learn, and share.

Jonathan Zittrain, faculty director of the Berkman Klein Center and Professor at Harvard Law School, discusses the role regulators and oversight groups might play as AI becomes more and more woven into the fabric of society.

As anchor institutions in the Fund, Berkman Klein and the Media Lab will take a lead in fostering research that applies the humanities, the social sciences, and other disciplines to the development of AI. Working in partnership with the Fund, they will work to create an expanding global network of scholars, experts, advocates, and thinkers, whose scholarship, experimentation, energies, and impacts can be enhanced through new collaborative, interdisciplinary partnerships.

A broad range of people from across the Harvard University and Berkman Klein Center communities have been actively working on issues of AI and related topic areas as part of their academic and professional work. Their voices reflect distinct and nuanced perspectives on a wide range of issues that intersect with AI. In a series of videos, Harvard and MIT affiliates offer context to the challenges and opportunities of AI.