Press Release

The AI Now Institute launches at NYU to examine the social effects of artificial intelligence

It will become the first ever university research institute focused on the large-scale social implications of AI systems and their effects on diverse populations, led by two prominent women researchers

November 15, 2017 – New York, NY – Today the AI Now Institute announced its official launch at New York University. It will become the first ever university research institute dedicated to understanding and managing the social implications of artificial intelligence. AI Now also announced its Advisory Board, which includes Sherrilyn Ifill (President and Director-Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense Fund), Nicole Wong (former deputy CTO of the Obama White House), Cynthia Dwork (Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science and co-inventor of Differential Privacy) and Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar of the California Supreme Court. By broadening the AI research landscape to include experts in core fields such as law, health care, labor, and the social sciences, AI Now aims to understand and mitigate potential risks of AI and ensure that this revolutionary technology develops in ways that align with shared societal values and norms.

“We’re at a major inflection point in the development and implementation of AI systems,” said Kate Crawford, cofounder of the AI Now Institute. “Today, we’re seeing early-stage AI introduced in critical areas like healthcare, finance, law, education, and the workplace. Machine learning and related technologies are becoming immensely powerful. But if not managed properly, these systems could also have far-reaching social consequences that may be hard to foresee and difficult to reverse. We simply can’t afford to wait and see how AI will affect different populations. We saw an urgent need for a university research institute that could bring together experts from across disciplines to collaborate on big challenges, and inform the way new systems are designed and used.”

The AI Now Institute will embark on an ambitious research and advocacy agenda covering social issues of bias and inclusion, rights and liberties, labor and automation, and safety and critical infrastructure. It will aim to develop methods of measuring and understanding the effects of AI in society, and to work directly with technology leaders and industry to create standards and best practices to guide the safe rollout of these systems. Over time, AI Now aims to develop a new field of research that can play a powerful role in helping steer the direction of this revolutionary technology.

“Together, Kate and I have deep experience in both the tech industry and in academia, working alongside the engineers and scientists developing early AI systems,” said Meredith Whittaker, cofounder of AI Now. “Through this hands-on experience we realized that ensuring safe and fair AI will require a much wider range of expertise than simply technical training. We need experts at the table from fields like law, health care, education, economics, and beyond. A world-class university like NYU is the perfect place to find this breadth and depth of expertise, and to begin building this capacity across disciplines. We believe that AI Now has a unique role to play in expanding the bench of AI experts, bringing these experts to the table, and creating actionable guidelines for the safe and responsible deployment of AI systems over the years to come.”

AI Now’s official launch comes on the heels of the publication of its 2017 AI Now Report on the state of artificial intelligence. The report identifies ten key recommendations for the field, laying the groundwork for its vision and agenda. In a major first, AI Now also became the first organization to call for the removal of ‘black box’ algorithms from core public agencies.

“NYU is known for its cross disciplinary work and for research that crosses traditional borders,” said NYU Provost Katherine Fleming. “As technology touches every part of our lives, transforming our societies in ways we do not yet fully understand, this part of our mission is more important than ever. Working with social scientists, legal scholars, economists, engineers, and many others the AI Now Institute at NYU will consider the history, context, and stakes of AI’s use within core social domains. Its work is urgently needed, and we are very proud to be home to this essential new venture – one that will help us develop methods for meaningfully grasping and governing AI’s powerful capabilities.”

At launch, AI Now will have direct partnerships with the NYU Center for Data Science, the NYU School of Law, the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the Stern School of Business, and the Tandon School of Engineering. In addition, AI Now will establish partnerships with industry bodies, community organizations, other academic institutions and civil society organizations. It aims to produce independent research that can directly inform industry and the AI field in developing AI systems and products.

About AI Now

The AI Now Institute at New York University is an interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to understanding the social implications of artificial intelligence. Its work focuses on four core domains: labor and automation, bias and inclusion, rights and liberties, and safety and critical infrastructure. You can learn more at www.ainowinstitute.org.

For media inquiries, please contact Sam Wallace at [email protected]