Over the weekend of January 2, much of our research staff from the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology attended The Future of AI: Opportunities and Challenges, a conference held by the Future of Life Institute to bring together AI researchers from academia and industry, AI safety researchers, lawyers, economists, and many others to discuss short and long-term issues in AI’s impact on society.

Nick Bostrom gave a talk on The Road Ahead for superintelligence safety research, and Mike Osborne presented his joint work with Carl Frey, part of the FHI & Oxford Martin School Futuretech program, on automation’s future impact on employment.

Second, shortly after the conference, the Future of Life Institute published an open letter on Research Priorities for Robust and Beneficial Artificial Intelligence. This letter and the attached research priorities document reflect many of the priorities and perspectives discussed by the conference attendees, and were initially drafted by Stuart Russell (UC Berkeley), Max Tegmark (FLI & MIT), and Daniel Dewey (FHI & Oxford Martin School). Since its publication, the letter has grown to more than five thousand signatories, including influential researchers from academic AI and machine learning, AAAI, and industry (Google DeepMind, Vicarious, Facebook, etc.).

Finally, The Future of Life Institute has announced an additional outcome from the conference: Elon Musk, who attended the conference, has decided to sponsor a $10 million global grant program to fund research on the future impacts and safety of artificial intelligence. More details will be released about this program soon.

It is very exciting to see research of the type that the Future of Humanity Institute and its funders and supporters have been pushing for so hard — through Bostrom’s book Superintelligence, the Oxford Martin School Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology, the Alexander Tamas Fellowship, and FHI’s core research program — brought to greater attention and acceptance in the AI community. We hope that this will mark a noticeable step toward a better long-term future, and are grateful to have been able to contribute to it!

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