As debate on EU’s proposed AI regulations begin, The European AI Fund, co-founded by Mozilla, announces €1.55 million in grants to 16 organisations
Over the last few weeks, there has been a flurry of activity around the future of artificial intelligence in Europe. Most is centered around the release of the European Union’s proposals to regulate the use of AI, kicking off a years-long debate where the draft rules will be reviewed and amended before they are approved by the European Parliament and European Council.
With these proposals, Europe has the potential to become a world leader in AI. But to engage meaningfully in this debate, there is a need to strengthen the European public interest and civil society ecosystem. Without a strong, informed and united civil society taking part in the debate, Europe — and the world — risk missing opportunities to better society, and instead might choose a path leading to societal harm or even existential threat. Right now, civil society alone is ill-equipped to take on this crucial role.
Two years ago, Mozilla and a group of international foundations joined forces to develop a strategy for bringing together a diversity of voices to shape the future of AI. Launched in September 2020, the European AI Fund was created to help civil society organisations increase their capacity to contribute to critical policy discussions in Europe. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
The Fund has allowed us to fulfill the urgent need to fund projects that monitor Europe’s tech response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In February 2021 we launched the Tech and COVID-19 grants, which target organisations conducting research that critically analyses the role of data, automated decision-making and other technology in Europe’s COVID-19 measures. These organisations — Algorithm Watch, the Ada Lovelace Institute, the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), the Global Data Justice project at Tilburg University, the Civil Liberties Union for Europe and Superrr Lab — have already had a significant impact by ensuring critical information is collected to inform the debate.
In April 2021 we announced our first cohort of open call grantees, made up of 16 organisations working in areas ranging from racism and immigration to healthcare and the environment.
Over the next 18 months, these organisations will support two primary Fund objectives. First, they will strengthen the advocacy and policy capacity of those who already work on AI. Second, they will bring in new voices to the debate — those that are working on issues affected by AI, and those that work for and represent communities disproportionately affected by harms associated with AI.
The sixteen grantees, which received a total of €1.55 million, include:
- Access Now Europe
- AW AlgorithmWatch
- ANEC – The European Consumer Voice in Standardisation
- ePaństwo Foundation
- European Network Against Racism (ENAR)
- European Digital Rights (EDRi)
- European Patients’ Forum
- Foxglove Legal (Foxglove)
- Friends of the Earth Europe
- Health Action International (HAI)
- International Committee on the Rights of Sex Workers in Europe (ICRSE)
- Irish Council for Civil Liberties
- Panoptykon Foundation
- Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM)
For complete descriptions of the organizations and how they plan to use their grants, visit the European AI Fund.
In addition to the Mozilla Foundation, the fund is supported by the Bosch Foundation, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, Fondation Nicolas Puech, Ford Foundation, King Baudouin Foundation, Luminate, Oak Foundation, Open Society Foundations and Stiftung Mercator.
Our first round of grants gives institutions that have traditionally stood up for the public interest the financial and organizational support they need to play an influential role in shaping Europe’s AI future. We’re excited to see how this first cohort enhances debates over new technology, ensuring the voice of civil society is not lost in this key moment in time.