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Press Release

NYCEDC Seeks Proposals to Develop and Operate NYC’s Center for Responsible Artificial Intelligence

May 09 2019

Center Is the First-Of-Its-Kind to Be Led by City Government and Will Use Public, Private and Community Collaboration to Build Responsible Innovation and Public Confidence in Emerging Technologies

NEW YORK, NY—The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today released a request for expressions of interest to secure proposals for the development and operation of the NYC Center for Responsible Artificial Intelligence (AI), an innovation, collaboration and applied research space designed to support the creation of responsible data science and AI in New York City. The Center will convene leaders from New York City startups, large companies, government, community and academia to participate in a set of programs that will establish ethical practices and build trust in this burgeoning technology.

The City will partner with local and global leaders to invest up to $7 million to support a range of programs that ensure innovations in data and AI technologies benefit New Yorkers. The Center will serve as a nexus and driver of responsible innovation for the city’s growing AI ecosystem, building on New York City’s reputation as a leader of inclusive and ethical implementation of cutting-edge technologies.

The link to the RFEI is available here.

“Artificial Intelligence has the potential to solve some of society’s biggest challenges. At the same time, the technology’s rapid advancement also raises important questions about how it’s developed and implemented,” said James Patchett, NYCEDC President and CEO. “As we continue to see record levels of investment and growth in this sector, it’s critical that we establish structures and tools that ensure innovation happens responsibly. The NYC Center for Responsible AI does just that; fostering collaboration and focusing efforts on creating solutions that build trust in the way these transformative technologies are used.”

Real concerns are emerging around data and AI, including protecting individual and consumer privacy, and preventing bias based on age, race or gender. The NYC Center for Responsible AI will create best practices and processes for the responsible use of these technologies. Additionally, the Center will support companies that use AI for social good and train the current and future workforce on how to develop and implement responsible AI.

These objectives will be achieved through four important programs that integrate ethics as a core component of AI and data applications:

  • Applied Research Lab: Create best practices and tools that integrate ethics when developing and testing real-world AI applications.
  • Data Collaboratives: Develop and test data sharing models to protect privacy and enable responsible innovation.
  • Talent and Education: Develop rigorous ethics curricula for data and computer science students and industry professionals.
  • AI for Good: Provide space and resources to support companies that create and use AI for social good.

With the rise of digital and online platforms, companies have gained unprecedented power over consumer data and individual privacy. As markets evolve and become increasingly dependent on technology-based systems, governments have struggled to keep pace with the sector’s rapid growth. While many companies have acknowledged the risks of rapid scaling of data science and AI and are taking steps to address these challenges internally, there are no consistent global guidelines or best practices for all companies or industries.

“Responsible data sharing and privacy protection are cornerstones of good governance,” said Laura Negrón, Chief Privacy Officer for the City of New York. “It’s exciting to see the Economic Development Corporation taking up this important work to help move conversations around AI and ethical considerations forward.”

“New York City was an early adopter of the open data movement. It is the first major city to codify an office of analytics, and is the first examining the role of automated decision systems in local government,” said Kelly Jin, Chief Analytics Officer and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics. “With the NYC Center for Responsible AI, the EDC continues the City’s tradition of leadership in the effective and responsible use of data, inside government and out.”

“We support the efforts of NYCEDC to make investments into companies and programs that support responsible use of AI and data,” said Alby Bocanegra, Interim Chief Technology Officer, City of New York. “As a co-Founder of the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, I look forward to collaborating with NYCEDC in a shared vision to foster innovation in a way that puts New Yorkers at the center of how new technologies are introduced into the public domain.”

“AI is here to stay and it’s going to impact every aspect of the lives of New Yorkers,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Ensuring that New York City is on the cutting edge of transparency and that AI works for all people is essential. This is an exciting project to not just encourage growth of the AI industry in New York City but also to encourage responsible technology.”

“The NYC Center for Responsible AI is the perfect program for New York City’s world class tech talent to explore how to make the most of these exciting emerging technologies,” said Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the Technology Committee. “As automation and data science become more accessible and mainstream, this initiative will ensure our investments in AI and data applications are safe, transparent, accountable, and most importantly, serving the best interests all who work, visit and live in New York City.”

“Establishing the NYC Center for Responsible AI will help ensure the ethical and responsible growth and development of tomorrow's cutting-edge forms of technology,” said Council Member Paul Vallone. “NYCEDC's investment builds on New York City's reputation as a leader in the tech field and will establish the basis for future investments that are sensible, effective, and benefit all New Yorkers.”

"As AI technology advances and adoption increases, it is essential for local governments to play an active role in guiding how these systems are used in their communities," said Rumman Chowdhury, Global Lead for Responsible AI, Accenture. “New York City has long been at the forefront of innovation, as well as a melting pot of ideas and cultures, and the NYC Center for Responsible AI will help ensure that heritage and diversity of thought informs how the city uses technology to improve business and society."

“We’re excited about NYCEDC’s initiatives for artificial intelligence and, in particular, happy to see emphasis being given to ethical issues in artificial intelligence. With these initiatives, New York City has the opportunity to be a global leader in ethical artificial intelligence,” said Cathy O’Neil, Chief Executive Officer of O’Neil Risk Consulting and Algorithmic Auditing, Inc. (ORCAA).

"NYCEDC’s intent to build upon ideas such as IEEE’s community-driven Ethically Aligned Design (First Edition) and the Ethics Certification Program for Autonomous and Intelligent Systems demonstrate a commitment towards practical informed innovation and economic development for the citizens of New York City," said José M.F. Moura, IEEE President and CEO. "With this demonstration of taking artificial intelligence design theory from principles to practice, and in alignment with the IEEE’s mission of advancing technology for humanity, we look forward to continuing to work closely with the City to help make this initiative a success."

"With the passing of Local Law 49 of 2018 New York City established itself as a national leader in transparency and accountability of automated decision system (ADS) used by the City, " said Julia Stoyanovich, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and of Data Science at New York University, and appointed member of the ADS Task Force established in response to this Law. "Regulatory efforts must be informed by actual practices -- by the technology being developed, the data on which it acts, and the effects that this technology has on society. NYCEDC's initiative will both help companies develop technology that is responsible-by-design and inform how the City goes about regulating technology."

“The NYC Center for Responsible AI is a welcome effort that can help the city contend with growing issues of bias and misuse of AI systems. It is important that those who are most affected by these technologies are included in decision making, and that the processes we establish to test and validate these systems include such voices. The NYC Center for Responsible AI can help ensure that this happens,” said Meredith Whittaker, AI Now Institute Co-Director, NYU Distinguished Research Scientist, Google Open Research Group Founder.

“Designing AI to be trustworthy requires a human-centered approach ensuring the benefits of this technology are broadly accessible, fairly distributed, and reflect ethical principles deeply rooted in timeless values. Trustworthy AI means ensuring fairness, accountability, transparency, reliability and safety, privacy and security, and inclusiveness. When we design with these considerations in mind, we all win. We are proud to support New York City’s continuing efforts to ensure that technology benefits everyone,” said Sid Espinosa, Sr. Director, Microsoft Cities.

“Responsible and ethical AI must be at the core as we develop, apply and advance this powerful technology, and it is essential to share best practices and lessons learned along the way. With IBM Research’s rich history of responsible stewardship of new technologies, it was a pleasure to provide strategic guidance in the creation of the NYC Center for Responsible AI,” said Saška Mojsilović, IBM Fellow, Head of Foundations of Trusted AI at IBM Research, and Co-director of IBM Science for Social Good. “We commend its mission of forwarding economic growth in AI and data science in New York City while integrating data responsibility and ethics into the process from the beginning.”

“AI is here, and it is changing everything. What we need is AI that reflects the solutions that all of us need. Too often, as we know, it can deepen the unfairness we have baked into society. NYCEDC’s investment in data privacy and anti-bias is an important opportunity for this great city to become a smarter and more just city,” said Maya Wiley, Senior Vice President for Social Justice, The New School.

“With technology innovation moving at breakneck speed, it is easy for responsible design, deployment, and use to lag behind. It’s great to see the NYCEDC take the lead on behalf of New Yorkers in building a means for technology designers and deployers in multiple sectors to come together to develop tools, standards, and best practices. AI and Data Science - two different fields but with some important overlaps - will have a dramatically positive impact on our lives, but there is risk if we don’t take appropriate responsibility in their development and use. Cornell Tech is a shining example of the NYCEDC’s ability to create critical new capabilities for New York City, and we are eager to see the fruits of this new effort,” said Ron Brachman, Director, Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech & Professor, Computer Science, Cornell University.

“AI systems are being used more and more to help make decisions that have life-changing consequences on individuals and on society. For people to trust these data-hungry systems, we need to ensure their responsible use, which includes collecting and analyzing data with privacy and ethical concerns in mind. With its new initiative that speaks to the heart of these concerns, NYCEDC shows tremendous leadership in pushing government, industry, and academia to come together toward achieving more trustworthy AI,” said Jeannette M. Wing, Avanessians Director of the Data Science Institute, Professor of Computer Science, Columbia University.

“In keeping with CUNY’s goal to educate, while instilling into our students the need to maintain ethics and social responsibility, it falls upon CUNY and other institutions to integrate curricula content that addresses this into their AI and data science courses. The NYC Center for Responsible AI will help create a technical workforce that can strive to both avoid, and offer solutions to, pressing issues in these areas,” said Dr. Susan P. Imberman, University Associate Dean for Technology Education, City University of New York.

New York City’s investments in the tech industry have factored into its tremendous growth over the past decade. In 2018, New York City based companies closed almost 1,300 funding deals worth $13.4 billion. Of those, big data companies received $1.6 billion and AI companies received $2.4 billion in VC funding.

From 2013 to 2018, VC funding for both big data and AI has grown faster in New York City than in the Bay Area, Boston, Montreal, as well as the U.S. and globally. Last year, there were nearly 12,000 job postings for AI-related positions in New York City, a 678% increase from 2013.

New York City Economic Development Corporation creates shared prosperity across New York City’s five boroughs by strengthening neighborhoods and creating good jobs. NYCEDC works with and for communities to provide them with the resources they need to thrive, and we invest in projects that increase sustainability, support job growth, develop talent, and spark innovation to strengthen the City’s competitive advantage. To learn more about our work and initiatives, please visit us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.