Today, building on its longstanding commitment to responsible technology, reimagining capitalism, and building cultures of belonging, Omidyar Network announced that it is making an initial $30M investment across a diverse slate of organizations to support the responsible development of generative AI. These first-round partners will play a critical role in shaping a generative AI future that prioritizes positive human and societal impact, and will help lay the foundation for expanded future investment in this space.
Specifically, Omidyar Network’s investment aims to build a more inclusive AI infrastructure that centers the social impacts of generative AI, elevates a range of diverse voices in AI development and governance, and promotes innovation and competition to maximize AI’s promise. This work builds on almost two decades of leadership in responsible tech supporting both innovation and societal guardrails, and is part of the new funders initiative on AI launched by the White House last month. Together, these funders are collectively channeling hundreds of millions of dollars into generative AI initiatives that augment human capability, improve the long-term effects of the technology on society, and address critical areas that currently lack sufficient funding.
“Today’s announcement reflects Omidyar Network’s long history of promoting responsible technology and is a crucial step towards a more collective, cross-sector approach to generative AI,” said Mike Kubzansky, CEO of Omidyar Network. “Realizing the promise of generative AI and ensuring its safe adoption will require collaboration and coordination between entrepreneurs, industry, consumers, workers, advocates, and policymakers. Our investment will help bridge the gap between private interests and the common good, ultimately ensuring sound social governance of this rapidly-emerging technology.”
This investment comes on the heels of the recent OpenAI saga – one of the most visible indications of several growing rifts in the AI ecosystem about what development should prioritize, how it should be governed, and by whom. Omidyar Network aims to broaden participation across generative AI development, safety, and governance, ultimately ensuring that the future of this technology is not defined by market considerations of a few dominant players.
Omidyar Network’s partners will focus on three primary areas:
- Ensuring the generative AI debate and its products are inclusive of all perspectives.
Partner organizations will prioritize diversity in generative AI development and outcome accountability; encourage a more inclusive corpus of data, including empowering communities as stakeholders in the design and development of AI products; and build generative AI applications that are in service of the public good.
For example, Humane Intelligence will scale its AI auditing and evaluation work and develop best practices and shared resources. The Collective Intelligence Project will coordinate a series of “AI Alignment Assemblies,” to bring a broader range of stakeholders into the conversation on AI governance and accountability.
“Humane Intelligence is democratizing access to educational and informative red teaming exercises and competitions to demonstrate the capacity of artificial intelligence—in particular generative AI—and to make the technology accessible to a wider audience,” said Dr. Rumman Chowdhury, co-founder of Humane Intelligence. “We are thankful to Omidyar Network for our initial seed funding, which has already helped us design red teaming exercises that have informed global perspectives on AI.”
“AI itself is a product of collective intelligence, and should be governed collectively,” said Divya Siddarth, co-founder of the Collective Intelligence Project. “We are working on building collective input into every layer of the AI stack, from resourcing to development to deployment, through partnerships with leading labs, civil society organizations, and policymakers.”
- Promoting competition and alternatives, addressing concentration of power within generative AI, and balancing regulation and innovation.
Partner organizations will create accountability tools to conduct e.g. third-party audits and public testing; explore open-source and public option models; and use research, conduct campaigns, and build coalitions to broaden policy conversations.
Among other partners, AI Now will engage in policy research addressing meaningful oversight and the concentration of power in the tech industry. Economic Security Project Action – alongside their partners at the Vanderbilt Policy Accelerator – will develop proposals for AI governance structures including public options for generative AI. Omidyar Network will also invest in private venture capital funds to support companies that are using generative AI to innovate in healthcare diagnosis, chip design, next generation EV batteries, and analytics support for small and medium-sized businesses.
“The only way we’re going to get the kind of inclusive AI we all want is if we build a governance system that ensures there is real competition in the market, including AI options that are publicly available,” said Natalie Foster, President and Co-founder of Economic Security Project Action. “But building that ecosystem is going to take a lot of work and that’s why I’m so thankful for Omidyar Network’s leadership in this space. They’re helping build an entire ecosystem for AI that will establish the guardrails we need to foster real competition but also help build worker power and ensure an inclusive debate about AI’s long-term impact.”
- Developing diverse coalitions and bold policies so that workers benefit from AI, share in productivity gains, and are not simply displaced.
Partner organizations will build strong coalitions that empower labor and worker advocates to shape the discussion on how generative AI is deployed in the workplace, and will support corporate engagement models that allow workers to determine how generative AI shapes their jobs.
For example, the AFL-CIO Technology Institute will help working people tell their stories to policymakers in Congress and statehouses across the country.
“The AFL-CIO Tech Institute is thrilled to partner with the Omidyar Network in the effort to develop safe and accountable AI to empower America’s workers,” said Amanda Ballantyne, Executive Director of the AFL-CIO Tech Institute. “The AFL-CIO Tech Institute not only supports workers navigating digital technologies in the workplace; we bring workers’ perspectives into the development and design of AI tools — foregrounding workers’ value and expertise in the entire AI innovation system. Our partnership with the Omidyar Network will elevate the voices of frontline workers currently witnessing their jobs transformed by AI, offering hands-on training to strengthen worker agency in a tech-driven economy.”
Learn more about Omidyar Network’s commitment to responsible technology here.
About Omidyar Network
Established by philanthropists Pam and Pierre Omidyar, Omidyar Network is a social change venture that has committed more than $1.86 billion to innovative for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations since 2004. Omidyar Network reimagines critical systems, and the ideas that govern them, to build more inclusive and equitable societies—for the benefit of the many, not just the few. Omidyar Network partners with funders, advocates, innovators, businesses, scholars, and others to advance responsible technology, reimagine capitalism, and build cultures of belonging so that all individuals have the social, economic, and democratic power to thrive.