Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, and the Omidyar Network, eBay founder Pierre Omidyar’s nonprofit, have each committed $10 million to fund academic research and development aimed at keeping artificial intelligence systems ethical and prevent building AI that may harm society.

The fund received an additional $5 million from the Knight Foundation and two other $1 million donations from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Jim Pallotta, founder of the Raptor Group. The $27 million reserve is being anchored by MIT’s Media Lab and Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.

The Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, the name of the fund, expects to grow as new funders continue to come on board.

One of the most critical challenges is how do we make sure that the machines we ‘train’ don’t perpetuate and amplify the same human biases that plague society.”

— Joi Ito, Director of MIT’s Media Lab

While AI has obvious benefits — it can be used to scan through troves of data to detect cancer and automate driving to reduce fatalities — a lot of very smart people, including the White House and Elon Musk’s nonprofit Open AI, have warned how artificially intelligent systems can go awry.

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