Minderoo-Oxford Challenge Fund in AI Governance launched

minderoo foundation logo circle with top half orange and bottom half yellow

The University of Oxford is pleased to announce the Minderoo-Oxford Challenge Fund in AI Governance to stimulate new investigative research and public education and engagement projects on the seismic challenges contemporary digital technologies pose to labour, institutions, and public scrutiny.


Launched by the University in conjunction with the Australian charity, Minderoo Foundation, the scheme is designed to facilitate a series of experimental grants with the aim of dramatically expanding the notion of AI ethics and incorporating insights from diverse disciplinary perspectives. 


The fund will serve as a stimulus programme to Minderoo Foundation’s global Tech Impact Network, a network of experts from leading international universities, banding together to tackle lawlessness in the technology ecosystem within the next five years. The network will incubate academic and reform work on an accelerated timeline over the next five years, with the research programme zeroing in on three distinctive themes: tackling lawlessness, empowering workers, and reimagining technology.


The scheme has been made possible by a gift from the Minderoo Foundation to Oxford.


The Minderoo-Oxford Challenge Fund is one of the activities of the new Institute for Ethics in AI, part of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Centre for the Humanities at Oxford. The Institute will bring together world-leading experts in the humanities with the technical developers and users of AI in academia, business and government. As well as broadening academic discourse about the ethical issues that surround AI, the Institute will disseminate ideas and research through a wide range of public engagement activities.


Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Principal of Jesus College and Chair of the Steering Group of the Institute for Ethics in AI said: ‘In the 21st century we want to establish the foundations of AI ethics and we expect that to change the deployment and use of AI for the benefit of all humanity. AI Ethics will be vital in ensuring that the technology empowers rather than oppresses us. The support from the Minderoo Foundation will enable us to engage the public and a wide range of academic disciplines with ideas and research in this vital field.'


Julia Powles, Director of the Minderoo Tech & Policy Lab at the University of Western Australia and architect of the Tech Impact Network, said: ‘We’ve permitted the world’s most powerful companies to operate in a state of exception, reaping massive profits and stockpiling swathes of highly-intimate information about us in the process. We urgently need better stories and better ideas to deal with this. We need theatre, we need poetry. We need scholars of history, labour, language, politics, and inequality.’