The University of Oxford has accepted a donation of 150 million pounds (sterling, not Facebook) made by Stephen Schwarzman, founder of the investment fund Blackstone and number 82 on the list of the richest in the world. The donation is, according to the institution itself, the largest that it has received, at least, since the Renaissance.
And all that money will go to the creation of the Schwarzman Center (in honor of his benefactor, as is customary in the Anglo-Saxon field), whose academic work will be linked to the humanistic field (addressing a total of eleven disciplines: history, philology, music, philosophy, religion, etc).
But how the humanities are not incompatible with technology, the center will also house what will be one of its crown jewels, the Oxford Institute for the Ethics of AI.
The patron, who has said “proud to collaborate with Oxford to create the Schwarzman Center”, highlights the inclusion in it of the “new Institute of Ethics of AI to explore crucial issues that affect the workplace and social.”
New technical advances create new ethical challenges
“For almost 1,000 years, the study of the Humanities at Oxford has proven fundamental to Western civilization. We have to ensure that its ideas and principles can adapt to today’s changing world.”
The rapid changes in the field of artificial intelligence have caused, precisely, numerous appeals from personalities of the business field (like Elon Musk) and scientist (like Stephen Hawking) about the possible dangers that this technology could unleash.
Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, and computer science teacher at the university itself highlighted the link between the humanities and AI, as well as the importance of this grant for research in the latter field:
“It is essential that philosophy and ethics relate to those disciplines development and use of AI. If AI can be beneficial to humanity, we must understand its moral and ethical implications. Oxford, with its rich history in the humanities and philosophy, is the ideal place to do this. “
The ‘other Schwarzman center’, across the ocean
But this It is not the first large donation that Schwarzman makes to a university to research artificial intelligence: last year he already donated an even higher amount (1 billion dollars) to MIT to create the ‘MIT Schwarzman College of Computing’.
This new faculty will be staffed with around 50 new professors and will be the place that will form, according to L. Rafael Reif, president of MIT, a “the bilinguals of the future”: those students specializing in fields such as biology, chemistry, physics, politics, history and linguistics, who expand the usefulness of their knowledge with specific training in machine learning.