Posted: April 23, 2020

Proposal due July 13, 2020

NSF has long supported transformative research in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML). The resulting innovations offer new levels of economic opportunity and growth, safety and security, and health and wellness, intended to be shared across all segments of society. Broad acceptance and adoption of large-scale deployments of AI systems rely critically on their trustworthiness which, in turn, depends on the ability to assess and demonstrate the fairness (including broad accessibility and utility), transparency, explainability, and accountability of such systems. For example, the behavior of algorithms for face recognition, speech, and language, especially when integrated into decision support systems applied across different segments of society, would benefit from new foundational research in fairness of AI systems.

NSF and Amazon are partnering to jointly support computational research focused on fairness in AI, with the goal of contributing to trustworthy AI systems that are readily accepted and deployed to tackle grand challenges facing society. Specific topics of interest include, but are not limited to transparency, explainability, accountability, potential adverse biases and effects, mitigation strategies, algorithmic advances, fairness objectives, validation of fairness, and advances in broad accessibility and utility. Funded projects will enable broadened acceptance of AI systems, helping the U.S. further capitalize on the potential of AI technologies. Although Amazon provides partial funding for this program, it will not play a role in the selection of proposals for award.

Advancing AI is a highly interdisciplinary endeavor drawing on fields such as computer science, information science, engineering, statistics, mathematics, cognitive science, and psychology. As such, NSF and Amazon expect these varied perspectives to be critical for the study of fairness in AI. NSF's ability to bring together multiple scientific disciplines uniquely positions the agency in this collaboration, while building AI that is fair and unbiased is an important aspect of Amazon's AI initiatives. This program supports the conduct of fundamental computer science research into theories, techniques, and methodologies that go well beyond today's capabilities and are motivated by challenges and requirements in real systems.

NSF's mission calls for the broadening of opportunities and expanding participation of groups, institutions, and geographic regions that are underrepresented in STEM disciplines, which is essential to the health and vitality of science and engineering. Consistent with this principle of diversity and particularly suitable for the thrust of this program, NSF and Amazon encourage proposals (either independently or in multi-institution collaborations) from investigators at institutions that serve groups historically underrepresented in STEM disciplines.

Read full solicitation here

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