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Artificial intelligence, or what passes for it, can be found in practically every major tech company and, increasingly, in government programs. A joint Harvard-MIT program just unloaded $750,000 on projects looking to keep such AI developments well understood and well reported.
The Ethics and Governance in AI Initiative is a combination research program and grant fund operated by MIT’s Media Lab and Harvard’s Berkman-Klein Center. The small projects selected by the initiative are generally speaking aimed at using technology to keep people informed, or informing people about technology.
AI - Enabler - World - News - Information
AI is an enabler of both good and ill in the world of news and information gathering, as the initiative’s director, Tim Hwang, said in a news release:
misinformation and disinformation online.”
Grants - Initiative - Response - Call - Ideas
These grants are not the first the initiative has given out, but they are the first in response to an open call for ideas, Hwang noted.
The largest sum of the bunch, a $150K grant, went to MuckRock Foundation’s project Sidekick, which uses machine learning tools to help journalists scour thousands of pages of documents for interesting data. This is critical in a day and age when government and corporate records are so voluminous (for example, millions of emails leaked or revealed via FOIA) that it is basically impossible for a reporter or even team to analyze them without help.
Lines - Legal - Robot - Plan - Government
Along the same lines is Legal Robot, which was awarded $100K for its plan to mass-request government contracts, then extract and organize the information within. This makes a lot of sense: People I’ve talked to in this sector have told me that the problem isn’t a lack of data but a surfeit of it, and poorly kept at that. Cleaning up messy data is going to be one of the first tasks any investigator or auditor of government systems will want to do.
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