Austin Innovators Form Group to Promote Ethical Use of AI Tools

Austin—A group of Austin, TX, entrepreneurs and investors have partnered with city officials as well as the University of Texas at Austin to form AI Austin, an initiative to promote ethical uses of artificial intelligence.

“Our goal is to create a practical and ethical compass for today’s AI technologies, and to build a foundation for the AI visionaries of the future to benefit humanity,” said Kay Firth-Butterfield, AI Austin’s executive director.

The group, which will officially launch today, will be led by a number of notable Austin innovators including Tom Meredith, a former CFO of Dell and co-founder and chairman of Meritage Capital; Manoj Saxena, former general manager of IBM Watson; and Michael Stewart, CEO of Lucid.ai, which makes artificial intelligence software.

Firth-Butterfield says artificial intelligence tools have the potential to affect society on a grand scale, such as helping to find cures for diseases. But it also has the ability to be disruptive negatively in cyber-crime or through “fake news.”

“AI Austin believes anyone who develops, sells, or deploys AI technologies should be grounded in common values and ethics,” she says.

To that end, Firth-Butterfield says the group will focus on supporting projects such as healthcare initiatives, law and ethics frameworks for AI applications, social justice initiatives such as smart city programs, and education to re-skill workers whose jobs will change as AI software is more commonly used in businesses.

“We want to make Austin the hub of the AI community,” Firth-Butterfield says. “We’re planting the flag.”

Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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