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Timnit Gebru launches Distributed AI Research Institute

Written by Fri 10 Dec 2021

One of the former leaders of Google’s ethics in AI team, Timnit Gebru, recently announced the launch of a new non-profit institute called the Distributed AI Research Institute (DAIR). This move comes a year after Gebru alleged to have been fired from Google over issues relating to the extent to which employees can question the impact of Google technology.

Billed as “an independent, community-rooted institute set to counter Big Tech’s pervasive influence on the research, development of AI,” the organisation will focus on the often negative impacts of technological advancement on minority groups. Another central part of the work done by DAIR and Gebru will revolve around establishing a positive future vision for AI technologies that creates positive changes in society.

“AI needs to be brought back down to earth,” says Gebru, founder of DAIR. “It has been elevated to a superhuman level that leads us to believe it is both inevitable and beyond our control. When AI research, development and deployment is rooted in people and communities from the start, we can get in front of these harms and create a future that values equity and humanity.”

People of colour, members of minority communities and LGBTQ people are some of the groups who have seen Al tools being weaponised against them by both nation states and private companies, across the world.

Academic papers will be a main output of DAIR, with Gebru’s position as one of the foremost experts on the intersection AI and ethics being essential to ensuring the focus of the research is as defined as possible. As of December 2021, DAIR has received $3.7 million in funding from the MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Kapor Center, Open Society Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Written by Fri 10 Dec 2021


AI research Timnit Gebru
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