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Elon Musk-backed Group Awards Millions in Grants to Keep Us Safe from AI

by James Eng /  / Updated 
Image: DARPA Robotics Challenge
A robot uses a hand-held power tool during the cutting task of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Robotics Challenge at the Fairplex June 6, 2015 in Pomona, California. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

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A volunteer-run organization backed by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is awarding $7 million in grants to 37 projects aimed at keeping artificial intelligence safe and "beneficial." The Boston-based Future of Life Institute says the recipients were chosen from among nearly 300 applications from around the world.

The winners include a project led by Manuela Veloso from Carnegie Mellon University on making AI systems explain their decisions to humans, a study by Heather Roff of the University of Denver on how to keep AI-driven weapons under "meaningful human control," and a project from Stuart Russell of the University of California, Berkeley, exploring AI systems' ability to learn from observations.

Related: Elon Musk Donates $10 Million to Protect the World From AI

The money comes from a $10 million donation Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, made to the foundation in January. Musk said at the time that he wanted to support research "aimed at keeping AI beneficial for humanity." Musk has called AI humankind's "biggest existential threat."

The full list of grant recipients can be found here.

Related: Jody Williams Helped Ban Landmines. Can She Stop Killer Robots?

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