The Mozilla Technology Fund (MTF) is a grantmaking program which funds technical projects in specific areas that relate to internet health. The Mozilla Technology Fund’s first call for proposals is for projects which can expose elements of how artificial intelligence (AI) systems work, in order to reduce bias in and increase the transparency of AI systems. We hope to fund projects which can empower watchdogs (including technologists and journalists) to hold the designers of AI systems accountable and to give them tools to reduce bias and increase transparency.
For years, bias has been shown to be one of the major risks of operating AI systems at scale. Systemic bias and bias which exists in training data results in real-world harms for people whose access to economic opportunity, social interaction, education and banking is increasingly mediated by these systems. To create more transparent artificial intelligence systems, AI transparency and documentation best practices need to be developed as a means to help unlock accountability, agency, and fairness.
Through the MTF: Bias and Transparency in AI Awards, we will provide awards of up to $50,000 USD each to open source technology projects which can make artificial intelligence systems more trustworthy, by addressing bias and/or increasing transparency and accountability. We imagine these projects might demystify the inner workings of existing AI systems and make the design of their algorithms transparent, by improving the explainability, interpretability and predictability of their outputs. The projects we aim to fund will provide the tools for current AI systems to better serve the interests of people, and/or imagine new ways of building and training AI systems in the future. Click here to learn more about what we mean by “Trustworthy AI”. Our goal is to provide projects in the MTF: Bias and Transparency cohort with the resources needed to unlock their full potential and to make them more sustainable in the long term.
Awardees will be expected to join monthly cohort calls for the duration of their project (12 months, beginning in January 2022) in order to share their progress, ask questions and offer support to other project teams. Awardees will also have access to a senior Mozilla fellow focusing on openness (who will be an expert in building and maintaining open source technologies and communities), who will serve as mentor to members of the MTF cohort, as well as other Mozilla fellows with expertise in AI, transparency and bias. All MTF awardees past and present will have access to the MTF Slack Community for asynchronous discussion and updates.
We imagine that the Bias and Transparency in AI Awards will support a variety of software projects (including utilities and frameworks), data sets, tools and design concepts. We will not consider applications for policy or research projects (though software projects which leverage, support or amplify policy and research initiatives will be considered—for example, bias metrics and statistical analyses being turned into easy to use and interpret software implementations). Some example projects we can imagine:
- Projects that help expose elements of how AI systems in consumer technology products work, the bias that may be inherent in them and/or how to mitigate the bias in these systems
- Utilities that help developers understand and identify bias when building datasets and AI systems
- Components that allow developers to provide more transparency to users on the inner workings of AI systems
- Tools to help identify, understand and mitigate the bias inherent in publicly-available datasets
- Have a product or working prototype in hand—projects which have not moved beyond the idea stage will not be considered
- Already have a core team in place to support the development of the project (this team might include software developers working in close collaboration with AI researchers, designers, product/project managers and subject matter experts)
- Embrace openness, transparency, and community stewardship as methodology
- Make their work available under an open-source license
These awards are open to all applicants regardless of geographic location or institutional affiliation, except where legally prohibited. However, Mozilla is especially interested in receiving applications from members of the Global Majority or Global South; Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color; women, transgender, non-binary and/or gender-diverse applicants; migrant and diasporic communities; and/or persons coming from climate displaced/impacted communities, etc. We strongly encourage all such applicants to apply.
Applications will be accepted for a period of four weeks and will then be reviewed by a committee of experts, which will make final funding decisions and allocate awards of up to $50,000 USD each out of a total pool of $300,000 USD. Applicants can expect to hear back within eight weeks of submitting an application; please email [email protected] with any questions. Applications will close on November 4th, 2021 at 12pm Eastern Time (UTC-4).