New European AI Fund to shape the direction of AI in Europe
We are excited to announce the launch of the European AI Fund, a philanthropic initiative to shape the direction of AI in Europe. The fund’s long-term goal is to promote an ecosystem of European public interest and civil society organisations working on policy and technology, based on a diversity of actors and a plurality of goals that represents society as a whole.
Over the next five years the European Commission has ambitions to forge a plan for Europe’s digital transformation, including AI. But without a strong civil society taking part in the debate, Europe—and the world—risk missing opportunities to better society and instead, might choose a path paved with societal harm. This fund aims to strengthen civil society’s capacity to contribute to these tech policy discussions.
In a first step, the fund will launch with a 1,000,000 € open call for funding aimed at strengthening the ability of civil society organisations in Europe to play a crucial role at a pivotal time: to effectively shape and influence public and policy debates about the form that Europe’s digital transformation should take. Our aim is to help build the capacity of those who already work on AI and Automated Decision Making (ADM). At the same time, we want to bring in new civil society actors to the debate, especially those who haven’t worked on issues relating to AI yet, but whose domain of work is affected by AI.
The fund is supported by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, King Baudouin Foundation, Luminate, Mozilla, Oak Foundation, Open Society Foundations and Stiftung Mercator. We are a group of national, regional and international foundations working in Europe that are dedicated to using their resources—financial and otherwise—to strengthen civil society and deepen the pool of experts across Europe who have the tools, capacity and know-how to catalogue and monitor the social and political impact of AI and data driven interventions and hold them to account. The European AI Fund is hosted by the Network of European Foundations.
Quote from Mark Surman, Executive Director of the Mozilla Foundation, and Swee Leng Harris, Principal at Luminate, Co-Chairs of the Fund’s board:
“We are very excited to launch this fund. In the debate over AI rules, the voice of civil society often gets lost. We believe that the broad interest of the public needs to be part of the European AI debate. Our goal is to give both financial and organizational support to institutions that have traditionally stood up for the public interest — such as consumer rights organisations, racial and economic justice organisations or labour unions — to boost their in-house AI expertise.”
Quote from Frederike Kaltheuner, Interim Fund Manager:
“This fund supports crucial work at a crucial time. To steer the direction of Europe’s digital transformation we need a strong, diverse and effective ecosystem of civil society organisations. The conditions created by Covid have made this task more important and more urgent than ever