NSF and philanthropic partners announce $16 million in funding to prioritize ethical and social considerations in emerging technologies
The U.S. National Science Foundation today launched a new $16 million program in collaboration with five philanthropic partners that seeks to ensure ethical, legal, community and societal considerations are embedded in the lifecycle of technology’s creation and use. The Responsible Design, Development and Deployment of Technologies (ReDDDoT) program aims to help create technologies that promote the public's wellbeing and mitigate potential harms.
"The design, development and deployment of technologies have broad impacts on society," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "As discoveries and innovations are translated to practice, it is essential that we engage and enable diverse communities to participate in this work. NSF and its philanthropic partners share a strong commitment to creating a comprehensive approach for co-design through soliciting community input, incorporating community values and engaging a broad array of academic and professional voices across the lifecycle of technology creation and use."
The ReDDDoT program invites proposals from multidisciplinary, multi-sector teams that examine and demonstrate the principles, methodologies and impacts associated with responsible design, development and deployment of technologies, especially those specified in the "CHIPS and Science Act of 2022." In addition to NSF, the program is funded and supported by the Ford Foundation, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, Pivotal Ventures, Siegel Family Endowment and the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fund for Strategic Innovation.
“In recognition of the role responsible technologists can play to advance human progress, and the danger unaccountable technology poses to social justice, the ReDDDoT program serves as both a collaboration and a covenant between philanthropy and government to center public interest technology into the future of progress,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation. “This $16 million initiative will cultivate expertise from public interest technologists across sectors who are rooted in community and grounded by the belief that innovation, equity and ethics must equally be the catalysts for technological progress.”
The broad goals of ReDDDoT include:
- Stimulating activity and filling gaps in research, innovation and capacity building in the responsible design, development, and deployment of technologies.
- Creating broad and inclusive communities of interest that bring together key stakeholders to better inform practices for the design, development, and deployment of technologies.
- Educating and training the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics workforce on approaches to responsible design, development, and deployment of technologies.
- Accelerating pathways to societal and economic benefits while developing strategies to avoid or mitigate societal and economic harms.
- Empowering communities, including economically disadvantaged and marginalized populations, to participate in all stages of technology development, including the earliest stages of ideation and design.
Phase 1 of the program solicits proposals for Workshops, Planning Grants, or the creation of Translational Research Coordination Networks, while Phase 2 solicits full project proposals . The initial areas of focus for 2024 include artificial intelligence, biotechnology or natural and anthropogenic disaster prevention or mitigation. Future iterations of the program may consider other key technology focus areas enumerated in the CHIPS and Science Act.
Statements from NSF’s Partners
"The core belief at the heart of ReDDDoT - that technology should be shaped by ethical, legal, and societal considerations as well as community values - also drives the work of the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation to build a human-centered digital future for all. We’re pleased to support this partnership, committed to advancing the development of AI, biotechnology, and climate technologies that advance equity, sustainability, and justice." - Vilas Dhar, President, Patrick J. McGovern Foundation
"From generative AI to quantum computing, the pace of technology development is only accelerating. Too often, technological advances are not accompanied by discussion and design that considers negative impacts or unrealized potential. We're excited to support ReDDDoT as an opportunity to uplift new and often forgotten perspectives that critically examine technology's impact on civic life, and advance Siegel Family Endowment's vision of technological change that includes and improves the lives of all people." - Katy Knight, President and Executive Director of Siegel Family Endowment