Tech Policy Lab awarded $1 Million Grant from MacArthur Foundation

posted Feb 16, 2018

The University of Washington Tech Policy Lab has received a three-year, $1 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation to support its ongoing work in tech policy, including current and future work on artificial intelligence.

"We are delighted to receive this empowering gift from the MacArthur Foundation to pursue research and education around artificial intelligence policy,” said Ryan Calo, Tech Policy Lab co-director and the Lane Powell and D. Wayne Gittinger associate professor at UW Law. “Alongside generous, ongoing support from Microsoft and the Hewlett Foundation, this gift positions the lab to ask and answer the hardest, most pressing questions about the role of artificial intelligence in contemporary society."

The lab, which bridges the University’s School of Law, Information School and Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering, will leverage the MacArthur Foundation grant to produce practical research for policymakers, deepen tech policy analysis and enhance public and institutional dialogue around tech policy. Currently, the lab is investigating the intersection between legal process and AI-assisted decision-making, and best practices around training data for AI systems and the impact of AI on cybersecurity policy, among other projects.

“As AI systems come to pervade societal activity, they inevitably bring worldviews with them,” said Batya Friedman, UW Information School professor and Tech Policy Lab co-director. “From that lens, we’re investigating how AI systems may impose certain values and perspectives, both nationally and globally.”

The funds will also help support the lab’s distinguished lecture series, which brings prominent speakers to the UW, including James Suzman, an anthropologist who documents the Bushmen’s experiences in the face of forced modernity, and Kate Crawford, the co-founder of a leading AI research center at NYU.

Other ongoing efforts include the Diverse Voices process, which promotes the inclusion of broader perspectives in tech policy documents, and the Global Summit, a convening of thought leaders from around the world to address critical research and policy gaps of tech policy. The Global Summit will focus on AI in 2018.

About the UW Tech Policy Lab

Situated within the University of Washington, the Tech Policy Lab is a unique, interdisciplinary collaboration that aims to advance technology policy through interdisciplinary research, thought leadership, and the cultivation of a diversity of expertise and perspectives. The Tech Policy Lab aims to bridge the gap of knowledge between technologists and policymakers to help generate wiser, more inclusive tech policy. Research at the Tech Policy Lab is driven exclusively by faculty interest.