If there was any doubt that Elon Musk’s fears that artificial intelligence may pose a threat to humanity were sincere, his decision to donate millions to the Future of Life Institute may erase them. Basically, the institute aims to ensure that artificial intelligence exists purely for the benefit of humanity and won’t go on a Skynet-esque mission to wipe us out or enslave us.
Elon Musk has donated millions to the Future of Life Institute, and now the organization is putting that money to use by funding research into keeping artificial intelligence “robust and beneficial” — i.e. not something that will turn on humanity Skynet style. The institute announced this week that it will be issuing grants to 37 research teams, whittled down from an applicant least of around 300. The teams are taking on the killer AI issue from different angles, including teaching AI to learn what humans want, aligning robots’ interests with our own, and keeping AI under human control. A full list of the grant winners, as well as descriptions of their projects, is available at the institute’s site. About $7 million will be split between the research teams in total, coming from Musk and the Open Philanthropy Project. Most of the projects should begin work this September, and the institute intends to keep them funded for up to three years. The program also has a remaining $4 million, which will be distributed later on, as the institute determines which areas of research appear to be the most promising.