NSF News

NSF and Amazon collaborate to advance fairness in AI

From personalized music playlists to improved health care, artificial intelligence continues to enhance daily life. The field of AI moves quickly, making it important to understand how to ensure that this technology is fair, transparent, accountable, inclusive and beneficial to all. The U.S. National Science Foundation leads the nation’s investments in university research to answer these challenging questions, exploring everything from the theoretical foundations of machine learning to the social and economic impacts of AI. This basic research unlocks new knowledge, while partnerships with industry stakeholders can enhance the ability to answer crucial questions about the fairness of AI systems. Embedding new concepts and methods in real-world systems ensures relevance to solving societal challenges.

In collaboration with Amazon, NSF is pleased to announce the 2021 awardees of its Program on Fairness in Artificial Intelligence. The program supports computational research focused on fairness in AI, with the goal of building trustworthy AI systems that can be deployed to tackle grand challenges facing society.

This year, the projects cover a variety of AI topics to include:

  • Theoretical and algorithmic foundations.
  • Principles for human interaction with AI systems.
  • Technologies such as natural language understanding and computer vision.
  • Applications including hiring decisions, education, criminal justice and human services.

“NSF is partnering with Amazon to support this year’s cohort of fairness in AI projects,” said Henry Kautz, director of NSF’s Division of Information and Intelligent Systems. “Understanding how AI systems can be designed on principles of fairness, transparency and trustworthiness will advance the boundaries of AI applications. And it will help us build a more equitable society in which all citizens can be designers of these technologies as well as benefit from them.”

The 2021 awardees include:

“We are excited to see NSF select an incredibly talented group of researchers whose research efforts are informed by a multiplicity of perspectives,” said Prem Natarajan, vice president in Amazon’s Alexa unit where he leads the Natural Understanding. “As AI technologies become more prevalent in our daily lives, AI fairness is an increasingly important area of scientific endeavor.  And we are delighted to collaborate with NSF to accelerate progress in this area by supporting the work of the top research teams in the world.”

Learn more about NSF’s Fairness in Artificial Intelligence Program by visiting nsf.gov

For additional background, read the NSF Science Matters article, “Supporting the Foundation of Fairness in AI.”