About

The development, application, and capabilities of AI-based systems are evolving rapidly, leaving largely unanswered a broad range of important short- and long-term questions related to the social impact, governance, and ethical implications of these technologies and practices. The speed of technological development and the uncertainty that accompanies its uses provoke complex questions related to fundamental values and concepts such as autonomy, agency, and accountability. Simultaneously, the knowledge gap between the small group of AI experts and the large population affected by these “black box” technologies is widening and creating misconceptions regarding AI. Taken together, these developments underscore the need (and opportunity) for the Berkman Klein Center and the MIT Media Lab to conduct evidence-based research to provide guidance to decision-makers in the private and public sectors, and to engage in impact-oriented pilot projects to bolster the use of AI for the public good, while also building an institutional knowledge base on the ethics and governance of AI, fostering human capacity, and strengthening interfaces with industry and policy-makers.

With these larger trends and needs in mind, the programs and activities listed as part of this effort form an initial set of exploratory yet ambitious and potentially high-impact undertakings, which are designed to contribute to a set of interrelated objectives. Specifically, the work is aimed at:

  • identifying and engaging in areas where we can inform and even shape the development and use of AI-related technologies, practices, and policies;

  • building community and capacity across disciplines, perspectives, and geographies to advance our collective understanding of the challenges and opportunities that AI creates for society and identify actions that can be taken;

  • contributing to a shared platform that enables unbiased, sustained, evidence-based, and solution-oriented work, with a focus on longer-term questions related to the ethics and governance of AI.

Our projects fit within three core categories of activities, and you can visit each category page to learn more about the range of associated programs:

  1. Research sprints and pilot projects

  2. Community and capacity building

  3. Education, training, and outreach

For the academic year, core use cases for our work include autonomous vehicles, criminal and social justice, and media and information quality. They are being examined through the lenses of cross-cutting themes, including global governance, diversity and inclusion, and transparency and explanation. For more information on our core use cases and cross-cutting themes, please visit the dedicated page.

Enabled by support from the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund, the Berkman Klein Center and the Media Lab are collaborating on a range of activities that include a diverse array of voices and seek to discern and preserve the human element so often lost in highly technical AI conversations. As anchor institutions of the Fund, the Berkman Klein Center and the Media Lab have taken a lead in fostering research that applies the humanities, social sciences, and other disciplines to the development of AI. Working in conjunction with the Fund, the Berkman Klein Center and the Media Lab are creating an expanding global network of scholars, experts, advocates, and thinkers, whose scholarship, experimentation, energy, and impact can be enhanced through new collaborative, interdisciplinary partnerships.

We welcome public engagement in the projects taking place across the Berkman Klein Center and the Media Lab, as well as with our research partners. Questions can be sent to ai-questions@cyber.harvard.edu.

Please also see the AI Fund FAQ for additional information.

Last updated

July 8, 2017