Google launches Digital Futures Project with $20M in grants to support ‘responsible AI’

Google and its charitable arm,, launched the Digital Futures Project, an initiative to study responsible artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, on Sep. 11. 

The Mountain View company will invest a total of $20 million in grants to leading think tanks and academic institutions around the world with the expressed aim “to facilitate dialogue and inquiry” into AI technologies.

According to a blog post, Google wishes to address issues of fairness, bias, misinformation, security and the future of work through deep collaboration with outside organizations and a commitment to facilitating responsible discussion:

“Through this project, we’ll support researchers, organize convenings and foster debate on public policy solutions to encourage the responsible development of AI.”

Awardees who’ve already received grants under the fund include Aspen Institute, Brookings Institution, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Center for a New American Security, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the Institute for Security and Technology, Leadership Conference Education Fund, MIT Work of the Future, R Street Institute and SeedAI.

The timing of the project’s launch comes as the CEOs of some of the largest technology corporations in the world are set to convene in Washington D.C. on Sep. 13 for an “AI Forum” meeting hosted by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Related: Senators unveil bipartisan blueprint for comprehensive AI regulation

Alphabet/Google CEO Sundar Pichai and former Google CEO and Chairman Eric Schmidt are slated to attend alongside Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Microsoft Cofounder Bill Gates, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and representatives from civil rights organizations.

Not only does the auspicious event bring together the CEOs of U.S. companies worth a combined total market value well in excess of $6 trillion, it also ostensibly marks the first time Zuckerberg and Musk will be in the same room together since their much-ballyhooed mixed-martial-arts match fell apart.

According to Senator Schumer’s office, the purpose of the event is to discuss artificial intelligence policy. It will be the first of nine such meetings scheduled throughout the fall — though it remains unclear whether proceeding events will feature the same guest list.

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