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UT Austin, MITRE Partnership Scales Up Investment in Ethical AI



A new partnership between the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin) and the MITRE Corporation is aiming to accelerate innovative ethical artificial intelligence (AI) research by interdisciplinary researchers involved in UT Austin’s Good Systems research grand challenge. 

MITRE is a nonprofit dedicated to “solving problems for a safer world.”

Minimizing Potential Adverse Effects of AI

Along with the widespread adoption of AI technologies across a range of industries comes the potential adverse societal effects, such as unemployment, economic inequality, privacy breaches, biased algorithms and datasets, and more. 

Kenneth R. Fleischmann is founding chair of Good Systems and a professor in the School of Information. 

“Good Systems is honored to partner with MITRE to work toward our shared goal of ensuring that AI will serve the public interest,” said Fleischmann. “AI innovation should be leveraged to enhance our economic competitiveness and national security, and it is also critical that we harness the benefits of AI to steer toward a more equitable and just society.”

UT Austin’s Good Systems

UT Austin launched Good Systems back in 2019. It is one of three Bridging Barriers research grand challenges that aims to bring together researchers from various disciplines to solve some of the major challenges facing the globe. 

A group of technologists, social scientists, and humanists are participating in the initiative and trying to define, evaluate, and construct ethical AI systems in six core areas: 

  • Enhancing middle-skill work with smart hand tools
  • Designing responsible AI to fight disinformation
  • Developing AI systems for smarter cities
  • Embedding ethics in public camera AI technologies
  • Designing AI to advance racial equality
  • Living and working with robots

MITRE has invested $1 million in support of Good Systems, enabling the initiative to expand its team expertise and support more faculty members, researchers, and students involved with the work.

Douglas Robbins is vice president of engineering and prototyping at MITRE Labs.

“As consequential use of AI increases, it is vital that we address safety, security and equity concerns,” said Robbins. “We are thrilled to be working with UT Austin and Good Systems to advance the underlying science in these areas that will enable us to build AI systems that can reach their full potential.”

Alex McFarland is an AI journalist and writer exploring the latest developments in artificial intelligence. He has collaborated with numerous AI startups and publications worldwide.