It’s no secret that AI (artificial intelligence) and complex algorithms, fueled by big data and deep-learning systems, are quickly changing how we live and work. There are almost daily news stories about the now and future impact of AI and how it will affect everything from the loans for which we qualify to the jobs we perform. This pervasive but often concealed impact makes it imperative that AI research and development have the benefit of a broad range of input, not only by engineers and corporations, but also by social scientists, ethicists, philosophers, faith leaders, economists, lawyers, and policymakers.

Recognizing the vast potential of artificial intelligence to affect the public interest, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, www.knightfoundation.org, Omidyar Network, www.omidyar.com, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and others have formed a $27 million fund to apply the humanities, the social sciences, and other disciplines to the development of AI.

The MIT Media Lab, www.media.mit.edu, and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, www.cyber.harvard.edu, will serve as founding academic institutions for the initiative, named the Ethics and Governance of Artificial Intelligence Fund. The Fund will support a cross-section of AI ethics and governance projects and activities, both in the United States and internationally.

Hoffman and Omidyar Network each committed $10 million to the fund, while Knight Foundation committed $5 million. With the MIT Media Lab and the Berkman Klein Center, they will form a governing board to distribute awards and facilitate other activities that provide meaningful links between computer sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities.

The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, www.hewlett.org, and Jim Pallotta, founder, Raptor Group, www.raptorgroup.com, have each committed $1 million to the fund, which is expected to grow as other funders come on board.