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Stanford University unveils the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence

John Etchemendy and Fei-Fei Li will co-direct the new Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. (Credit: Drew Kelly for Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence).

Stanford University is launching a new institute aiming at studying and developing human-centred artificial intelligence (AI) technologies and applications.

The centre will be called the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI) and will build on a tradition of leadership in AI at the university.

HAI’s mission is to advance AI research, education, policy and practice to improve the human condition. It will partner with industry, governments and non-governmental organisations that share the goal of a better future for humanity through AI.

The centre will be led by Fei-Fei Li, professor of computer science and former director of the Stanford AI Lab and John Etchemendy, professor of philosophy and former Stanford University provost.

With an outstanding reputation in humanities, social sciences, engineering and medical schools, Stanford HAI is expected to become an interdisciplinary, global hub for everyone interested in the future of AI around the world.

“Its biggest role will be to reach out to the global AI community, including universities, companies, governments and civil society to help forecast and address issues that arise as this technology is rolled out,” Etchemendy said. 

“We do not believe we have answers to the many difficult questions raised by AI, but we are committed to convening the key stakeholders in an informed, fact-based quest to find those answers.”

Commenting on the opening of the centre, Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne said artificial intelligence has the potential to change how we live our lives deeply. “Now is our opportunity to shape that future by putting humanists and social scientists alongside people who are developing artificial intelligence,” he said.

“This approach aligns with Stanford’s founding purpose to produce knowledge for the betterment of humanity. I am deeply thankful to our supporters who are providing foundational funding for the institute, which is a critical element for our vision for the future of Stanford University.”

Stanford formally inaugurated the centre at a symposium today. The event featured speakers such as Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates and California Governor Gavin Newsom, as well as leading experts Kate Crawford of NYU, Jeff Dean of Google, Demis Hassabis of DeepMind, Alison Gopnik of UC Berkeley, Reid Hoffman of Greylock Partners, and Eric Horvitz of Microsoft Research.

“AI is no longer just a technical field,” Li said. “If we’re going to make the best decisions for our collective future, we need technologists, business leaders, educators, policymakers, journalists and other parts of society to be versed in AI and to contribute their perspectives.

“Stanford’s depth of expertise across academic disciplines combined with a rich history of collaboration with experts and stakeholders from around the world make it an ideal platform for this institute.”

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