Investment

NSF Responsible Tech Initiative Looking at AI, Biotech and Climate

January 24, 2024 12

A common criticism of new technologies — from splitting the atom to artificial intelligence — is that innovation outpaces human and regulatory ability to ensure responsible design, development, and deployment. Responding to that, the U.S. National Science Foundation‘s new Responsible Design, Development, and Deployment of Technologies (ReDDDoT) program supports research, implementation, and educational projects for multidisciplinary, multi-sector teams addressing that concern.

The $16 million effort arises from the NSF’s Social, Behavioral and Economics Directorate and so has a special emphasis on how social and behavioral sciences can strengthen collaboration across disciplines and sectors in this arena. As the initiative’s solicitation document explains, “An integrative transdisciplinary approach is crucial, with strategic combinations drawn from a broad array of fields including, for example, computing, sociology, public policy, geosciences, engineering, biological sciences, economics, ethics, and the law.”

ReDDDoT is accepting proposals for funding opportunities from interested applicants, and an introductory webinar is scheduled for February 9. The initial areas the program has prioritized this year are artificial intelligence, biotechnology, or natural and anthropogenic disaster prevention or mitigation.

The ReDDDoT program is a collaboration between the NSF and other philanthropic contributors, including Ford Foundation, Pivotal Ventures, The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, Siegel Family Endowment, and The Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fund for Strategic Innovation. This program aims to ensure that community values and ethical, societal, and legal considerations are included in technological lifecycles to promote the public wellbeing and mitigate harm. The NSF has outlined the following goals for ReDDDoT:

  • “Stimulating activity and filling gaps in research, innovation, and capacity building in the responsible design, development, and deployment of technologies;” 
  • “Creating broad and inclusive communities of interest that bring together key stakeholders to better inform practices for the design, development, and deployment of technologies;”   
  • “Educating and training the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce on approaches to responsible design, development, and deployment of technologies;”  
  • “Accelerating pathways to societal and economic benefits while developing strategies to avoid or mitigate societal and economic harms; and” 
  • “Empowering communities, including economically disadvantaged and marginalized populations, to participate in all stages of technology development, including the earliest stages of ideation and design.”

Phase 1 of the ReDDDoT program will offer planning grants, workshop proposals, and Translational Research Coordination Networks for interested parties, while Phase 2 will include project proposals in specific technological areas with demonstrated maturity. Both phases will help create community across disciplines, facilitate multi-sector and transdisciplinary activities, and raise awareness about the important approaches and needs in the previously listed technology areas.

  • Phase 1: 10-12 planning grants (up to $300,000 for two years); 2 Translational Research Coordination Networks (up to $500,000 for 3-4 years); and 8-12 workshop proposals (between $750,000 and $1,000,000 for 3 years).
  • Phase 2: 8-12 project proposals (between $750,000 and $1,000,000 for 3 years).

All who qualify are encouraged to submit a proposal to the ReDDDoT program. Proposals in Phase 1 should be submitted by April 8 at 5 p.m. (based on the submitter’s local time). Project proposals for Phase 2 will be due on April 22 at 5 p.m.

To support potential applicants, ReDDDoT will host an informational webinar on February 9 at 2 p.m. ET. Information and an opportunity to ask questions will be available during this webinar. Learn more and register for this session.

Christopher Everett is the social sciences communications intern at Sage. He is currently studying public policy and media and journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With a strong passion for the interplay of law, policy, and communications, Christopher seeks to bridge the gap between these fields through insightful communication and analysis.

View all posts by Christopher Everett

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