As the ethical and policy issues surrounding artificial intelligence and other computing technologies take center stage, global law firm K&L Gates LLP has made a gift to help ensure Carnegie Mellon University's leadership in this emerging field.
The $10 million gift will establish the K&L Gates Endowment for Ethics and Computational Technologies. The funds will support new faculty chairs as well as three new Presidential Fellowships for doctoral students, a biennial conference, the K&L Gates Presidential Scholarship Endowed Fund to recognize undergraduate students' outstanding achievements and potential for further excellence, and an annual K&L Gates Prize to be awarded to a graduating CMU senior.
"We are deeply grateful to K&L Gates for this generous support," said Carnegie Mellon President Subra Suresh. "It is not just technology that will determine how this century unfolds. Our future will also be influenced strongly by how humans interact with technology, how we foresee and respond to the unintended consequences of our work, and how we ensure that technology is used to benefit humanity, individually and as a society.
"By its history and its current leadership in these fields, Carnegie Mellon is uniquely positioned to examine these questions and make lasting contributions. This gift will help propel our momentum in this critical work," Suresh said.
CMU is internationally renowned as a global research university that excels in the fields of artificial intelligence, performing arts, brain science, technology-enhanced learning, cybersecurity and robotics, among others.
The university has been at the epicenter of artificial intelligence (AI) since the discipline was created in the 1950s, and CMU visionaries Allen Newell and Herbert A. Simon pioneered AI and cognitive science. Their quest to make machines think not only led to new insights about cognition, language and vision, but opened the door to a novel and powerful approach to computing that is now shaping our world.
Today, CMU faculty, students, and researchers are pushing the boundaries of artificial intelligence in both autonomous technologies and technologies that augment human abilities. At the same time, many scholars at CMU are stepping back to take a look at how humans actually use these technologies, to help ensure that these discoveries are harnessed to benefit humanity.
"Law and technology converge at a profoundly important and signature 21st century challenge: how to define ethical boundaries surrounding the emergence of artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge computational technologies," said Peter J. Kalis, K&L Gates chairman and global managing partner. "I am extraordinarily proud that K&L Gates is making this major investment in CMU, a global leader in computational technologies.
"As a society, our ethical choices in this field will greatly influence what kind of world we will have. Its values. Its culture. Its laws. And, ultimately, its humanity. With this initiative, we honor not only our longstanding relationship with CMU, but also the commitment of both organizations to our civilization, now and in the future," Kalis said.
The new endowed faculty chairs will support a senior professor and a junior professor, both in ethics and computational technologies. The K&L Gates Presidential Fellowship Endowed Fund will support three doctoral students whose studies relate to the field of ethics and computational science and technology.
The K&L Gates Presidential Scholarship Fund will help increase access to a CMU education for outstanding undergraduate students by providing critical financial support as part of CMU's Presidential Fellowship and Scholarship program.
The K&L Gates Prize will be awarded at commencement to a graduating senior who has best inspired fellow students to a love of learning through a combination of intellect, high scholarly achievement, engagement with others and character.
This story originally appeared on the Carnegie Mellon News website.