UCLA School of Law has received a three-year $1.5 million grant from the Open Philanthropy Project to study the disruptive societal and legal changes that stem from artificial intelligence. The project will be led by UCLA Law’s Program on Understanding Law, Science and Evidence, known as PULSE.

Recent advances in facial and voice recognition, automated translations and automated medical diagnoses have illustrated the potential for artificial intelligence to alter myriad aspects of human life. But artificial intelligence also may pose safety and other risks that warrant coordinated responses.

The grant will support two PULSE Fellowships in Artificial Intelligence, Law and Policy — full-time academic positions dedicated to research and writing on the social, economic and legal implications of artificial intelligence and machine learning. PULSE will also organize workshops, exercises and publications that explore the rapidly advancing field of artificial intelligence safety and its legal and policy dimensions.

UCLA School of Law
Parson (top) and Re

UCLA Law professor Edward Parson and assistant professor Richard Re will head the project.

“The Open Philanthropy Project’s gift will support a much-needed inquiry into the effects of so-called transformative AI,” said Parson, UCLA Law’s Dan and Rae Emmett Professor of Environmental Law and faculty co-director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. “Technological innovation stands to deliver broad, significant and as yet not-fully-imagined societal changes in the years to come, and forward-looking scholarship into how we and the law must adapt has never been more important.”

Founded in 2009, PULSE at UCLA Law engages in cutting-edge research and programming to uncover the ways in which innovations in science and evidence influence law and policy making.

“This project offers a tremendous opportunity to engage students and scholars in unexamined questions that go to the heart of PULSE’s interdisciplinary mission, to explore the complex connections between law and new technologies,” said Re, the faculty co-director of PULSE.

The Open Philanthropy Project’s main funding partners are Cari Tuna and Dustin Moskovitz, a co-founder of Facebook and Asana. A separate recent grant from the organization is funding a study of climate engineering technology and its effects on law and policy.

“Professors Richard Re and Ted Parson are both enormously creative and wide-ranging scholars and thinkers, and are ideally suited to spearhead this project,” said Jennifer Mnookin, dean of UCLA Law and the faculty co-director of PULSE. “I am delighted that this significant grant from the Open Philanthropy Project provides UCLA Law and PULSE the chance to take a deep and thoughtful look at what developments in artificial intelligence are likely to mean for our future.”