OpenAI has announced the launch of a new grant program that seeks to crowdsource AI regulation. The organization plans to offer ten $100,000 grants to fund experiments designed to establish a democratic process for determining the governing rules of AI systems, within legal limits.
The initiation of this grant program follows OpenAI's proposal for an international regulatory authority for AI, similar to the body overseeing nuclear power. OpenAI co-founders Sam Altman, Greg Brockman, and Ilya Sutskever have contended that the rapid advancement of AI technology outpaces the capacity of existing regulators to effectively control the technology, a sentiment echoed in the recent announcement.
OpenAI is specifically seeking individuals, teams, and organizations to create proof-of-concepts for a democratic process that can help set boundaries for AI. The aim is to learn from these experiments and use the insights to establish a more global and ambitious process in the future.
Although these initial experiments are not intended to make binding decisions, the company hopes they will explore significant questions and develop innovative democratic tools for future use. OpenAI views this grant as a step towards creating democratic processes to oversee superintelligent AI.
Using funds from its nonprofit organization, OpenAI aspires to set up a process embodying the essence of democracy: a diverse group of people engaging in thoughtful discussions and reaching a consensus through a transparent decision-making process. Ideally, this process would help answer complex questions about AI behavior and representation of disputed views in AI outputs.
The grant program is stated to be separate from OpenAI's commercial interests. However, some skepticism arises from recent events, including Sam Altman's critique of the EU's proposed AI regulation and his testimony in front of the U.S. Senate Congressional Committee advocating a particular style of AI regulation.
Regardless of potential self-serving motives, the program represents an interesting approach to AI policy-making. It will be intriguing to see what kinds of democratic processes are proposed and who OpenAI selects as recipients.
OpenAI's grant program applications are open until June 24 at 9 p.m. PDT. After the application period, ten recipients will be selected. These recipients will be required to present a concept involving at least 500 participants, publish a public report by October 20, and open source their work.