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Facebook and Technical University of Munich launch Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence

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Facebook and Technical University of Munich launch Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence

Facebook has announced the creation of an independent Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence in partnership with the Technical University of Munich (TUM), with the company granting $7.5 million in funding over five years to back the exploration of issues affecting AI.

In a blog post announcing the Institute, Facebook Director of Applied Machine Learning Joaquin Quiñonero Candela writes that the company’s development of its Fairness Flow algorithm assessment tool, and its work with Partnership for AI and AI4People demonstrate its commitment to ensuring the fairness, safety, and respect for privacy of AI systems.

“At Facebook, ensuring the responsible and thoughtful use of AI is foundational to everything we do — from the data labels we use, to the individual algorithms we build, to the systems they are a part of,” according to Candela.

TUM is one of the world’s top universities for AI research, Facebook says, and the Institute will benefit from its academic expertise, resources, and global network. It will also benefit from Germany’s efforts to create ethical frameworks for AI, such as government-led initiative to set ethical guidelines for autonomous driving. In addition to providing funding, Facebook will support the Institute by providing an industry perspective on research proposals.

TUM Professor Dr. Christoph Lütge, who holds the Peter Löscher Endowed Chair of Business Ethics at TUM will lead the Institute, and work with an advisory board composed of academic, civil society and industry representatives.

“At the TUM Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence, we will explore the ethical issues of AI and develop ethical guidelines for the responsible use of the technology in society and the economy,” Dr. Lütge said. “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.”

The Institute will also explore opportunities for funding and collaboration with additional partners.

Facebook faces its own challenges related to the ethics of AI applications, as well as their public relations ramifications, with the EFF backing a suit against the company under Illinois’ BIPA, and questions in the media about whether the social media giant’s “ten year challenge” is a ploy to gather a specific dataset for training facial recognition systems.

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