In conjunction with a visit of CEO Sundar Pichai’s visit to Stockholm yesterday, Google announced the launch of the second Google.org Social Innovation Fund on AI to “help social enterprises solve some of Europe’s most pressing challenges.”
Through the fund, Google is making €10 million available, along with mentoring and support, for entrepreneurs from underserved backgrounds. The aim is to help them develop transformative AI solutions that specifically target problems they face on a daily basis.
The fund will provide capital via a grant to INCO for the expansion of Social Tides, an accelerator program funded by Google.org, that will provide cash support of up to $250,000 (€232,000).
In 2021, Google put up €20 million for European AI social innovation startups through the same mechanism. Among the beneficiaries at that time was The Newsroom in Portugal, which uses an AI-powered app to encourage a more contextualised reading experience to take people out of their bubble and reduce polarisation.
Mini-European tour ahead of AI Act
Of the money offered by the tech giant this time around €1 million will be earmarked for nonprofits that are helping to strengthen and grow social entrepreneurship in Sweden.
During his brief stay, Pichai met with the country’s prime minister and visited the KTH Royal Institute of Technology to meet with students and professors.
Googles vd Sundar Pichai gästade KTH och pratade om artificiell intelligens. Han konstaterar att det är ok att vara rädd om rädslan används till någonting vettigt. https://t.co/imbtxxbSVn pic.twitter.com/oWal43dc2a
— KTH Royal Institute of Technology (@KTHuniversity) May 24, 2023
Sweden currently holds the six-month-long rotating Presidency of the European Union. Pichai’s visit to Stockholm preceded a trip to meet with European Commission deputy chief Vera Jourova and EU industry chief Thierry Breton on Wednesday.
Breton is one of the drivers behind the EU’s much-anticipated AI Act, a world-first attempt at far-reaching AI regulation. One of the biggest sources of contention — and surely subject to much lobbying from the industry — is whether so-called general purpose AI, such as the technology behind ChatGPT or Google’s Bard should be considered “high-risk.”
Speaking to Swedish news outlet SVT on the day of his visit, Pichai stated that he believes that AI is indeed too important not to regulate, and to regulate well. “It is definitely going to involve governments, companies, academic universities, nonprofits, and other stakeholders,” Google’s top executive said.
However, he may be doing some convincing of his own in Brussels, further adding, “These AI systems are going to be used for everything, from recommending a nearby coffee shop to potentially recommending a health treatment for you. As you can imagine, these are very different applications. So where we could get it wrong is to apply a high-risk assessment to all these use cases.”
Will Pichai be successful in convincing the Commission? Then, just maybe, Bard will launch in Europe too.
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