Elon Musk Donates $10 Million for Responsible AI Research Program


FLI President Max Tegmark speaks on "The Future of Life: a Cosmic Perspective" at Singularity Summit 2011.

Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, announced he has decided to donate $10 million dollars to the Future of Life Institute for a global research program aimed at responsible research and development of artificial intelligence.

The institute has drafted an open letter signed by a long list of AI researchers and other members of the scientific community including Musk and famous cosmologist Stephen Hawking that calls for “expanded research aimed at ensuring that increasingly capable AI systems are robust and beneficial; our AI systems must do what we want them to do.”

“Here are all these leading AI researchers saying that AI safety is important,” says Musk. “I agree with them, so I’m, today, committing $10 million to support research aimed at keeping AI beneficial for humanity.”

The Future of Life Institute, which is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization working on mitigating potential risks from the development of human-level AI, will oversee the $10 million research program. 

“I love technology because it’s what made 2015 better than the Stone Age,” says physicist and FLI President Max Tegmark. “Our organization studies how we can maximize the benefits of future technologies while avoiding the pitfalls.”

An open grants competition will open by Jan.  through an application portal on the FLI website. The majority of funds will go to AI researchers with the remainder going to AI-related research in fields such as economics, law, ethics and policy. 

“Anybody can send in a grant proposal, and the best ideas will win regardless of whether they come from academia, industry or elsewhere,” says FLI Cofounder Viktoriya Krakovna.

“This donation will make a major impact,” says FLI Cofounder and UCSC Prof. Anthony Aguirre. “While heavy industry and government investment has finally brought AI from niche academic research to early forms of a potentially world-transforming technology, to date relatively little funding has been available to help ensure that this change is actually a net positive one for humanity.”

In addition to research grants, the program will include outreach and meetings to bring together academic AI researchers, industry AI developers and other key players to continue the discussion on how to maximize societal benefits of AI.

“Hopefully this grant program will help shift our focus from building things just because we can toward building things because they are good for us in the long term,” says FLI Cofounder Meia Chita-Tegmark.

<< Back to the News