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Many Top AI Researchers Get Financial Backing From Big Tech


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Credit: Sam Whitney / Wired

Big Tech funding may threaten the academic integrity of artificial intelligence research, according to Mohamed Abdalla, a grad student working on AI at the University of Toronto.

Abdalla is coauthor of a paper highlighting the number of top AI researchers — including those who study the ethical challenges raised by the technology — who receive funding from tech companies. That can be a particular problem, he says, when corporate AI systems raise ethical issues, such as algorithmic bias, military use, or questions about the fairness and accuracy of face recognition programs.

Abdalla and coauthor Moustafa Abdalla of Harvard Medical School describe their work in "The Grey Hoodie Project: Big Tobacco, Big Tech, and the Threat on Academic Integrity."

The Abdallas examined the CVs of 135 computer science faculty who work on AI at Stanford, MIT, UC Berkeley, and the University of Toronto, and found that more than half of tenure-track AI faculty at the universities who disclose their funding sources have received some sort of backing from Big Tech.

"There are very few people that don't have some sort of connection to Big Tech," Mohamed Abdalla says.

From Wired
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