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The Partnership on AI and the National Science Foundation Announce Joint Support for Exploratory Research on AI and Society

Together with the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorates for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) and Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE), the Partnership on AI (PAI) is pleased to announce a joint $4.5 million funding pool for high-risk, high-reward research at the intersection of the social and technical dimensions of AI.

Focus areas of PAI-NSF research program
This funding opportunity will support EArly-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGERs) to understand the social challenges arising from AI technology and enable scientific contributions to overcome them. The NSF EAGER funding mechanism is used to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. This work is often considered especially high-risk, high-reward in the sense that it involves radically different approaches, applies new expertise, or engages novel disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspectives.

Since its founding, the Partnership on AI has been committed to enabling the study of AI and its impacts across a broad range of disciplines important to questions associated with responsible AI technology development and deployment. One vehicle for this work has been through Partnership on AI Working Groups, which endeavor to design and execute research, tools, and practices associated with PAI’s Thematic Pillars–and are a place for Partner organizations to engage across disciplines and sectors.

Another important area for multidisciplinary research is in academia, where the Partnership on AI believes in the importance of sponsoring multidisciplinary, collaborative projects that integrate computer/computational science with perspectives from other disciplines. This work helps to advance understanding of the influences of AI on people and society, maximize the benefits and opportunities of AI, and address responsible technical innovations that will help to overcome the emerging social challenges of AI technologies. The pool of funds being announced today endeavors to address an area of need in sponsoring novel approaches and research findings on topics of critical importance aligned with PAI’s mission.

“Our strategic engagement with the NSF is aimed at injecting energy and mindshare into research on the influences of AI on people and society,” said Eric Horvitz, Director of Microsoft Research Labs and Board Chair of the Partnership on AI. “We hope this is the start of ongoing collaborations with funding agencies around the world to stimulate work by top researchers on rising challenges and opportunities with applications of AI in the open world.”

Eligible parties and how to apply
Eligible grantees for this funding opportunity include U.S. institutions of higher education and nonprofit research organizations, and projects may include international collaborations. NSF will be responsible for all review and award decisions, and will be responsible for issuance of all awards and declinations. All awards will be subject to NSF’s standard terms and conditions. PAI will not oversee the activities or use of funds by grantees under this funding opportunity, and PAI membership will not be considered in the review process nor in award selection.

PAI is dedicated to advancing global opportunities for the multidisciplinary study of AI, and this collaboration opportunity with NSF represents the first form of such study. For more information on this grant opportunity, including details on how to apply, see the Dear Colleague Letter on the NSF website.

About PAI
The Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society was established to study and formulate best practices on AI technologies, to advance the public’s understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society. Our members believe in and endeavor to uphold a group of tenets that characterize and drive all of the Partnership’s work. These include the belief that AI research and development efforts need to be actively engaged with and accountable to a broad range of stakeholders, and a commitment to maximizing the benefits and addressing the potential challenges of AI technologies by working to protect the privacy and security of individuals. You can read our full list of tenets here.

About NSF
The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.