In 2019, Mozilla Foundation decided that a significant portion of its internet health programs would focus on AI topics. This wiki provides an overview of the issue as we see it, our theory of change and Mozilla's programmatic pursuits for 2020. Above all, it opens the door to collaboration from others.
In 2019, Mozilla Foundation decided that a significant portion of its internet health programs would focus on AI topics. This brief offers an update and opens the door to collaboration from others.
Current debates about AI often skip over a critical question: is AI enriching the lives of human beings?
AI has immense potential to improve our quality of life: teeing up the perfect song; optimizing the delivery of goods; solving medical mysteries. But adding AI to the digital products we use everyday can equally compromise our security, safety and privacy. Time and again, concerning stories regarding AI, big data and targeted marketing are hitting the news. The public is losing trust in big tech yet doesn’t have any alternatives. There is much at stake.
Mozilla believes we need to ensure that the use of AI in consumer technology enriches the lives of human beings rather than harms them. We need to build more trustworthy AI. For us, this means two things: personal agency is a core part of how AI is built and integrated and corporate accountability is real and enforced. This will take AI in a direction different than where it’s headed now.
The best way to make this happen is to work like a movement: collaborating with citizens, companies, technologists, governments and organizations around the world working to make ‘trustworthy AI’ a reality. This is Mozilla’s approach. We already have collaborative projects underway in four areas:
- Helping developers build more trustworthy AI, collaborating with Pierre Omidyar and others to put $3.5 million behind professors integrating ethics into computer science curriculum.
- Generating interest and momentum around trustworthy AI technology, backing innovators working on ideas like data trusts and working on open source voice technology.
- Building consumer demand -- and encouraging consumers to be demanding, starting with resources like our Privacy Not Included guide and pushing platforms to tackle misinformation.
- Encouraging governments to promote trustworthy AI, including work by Mozilla Fellows to map out a policy and litigation agenda that taps into current momentum in Europe.
These projects are just a sample -- and just a start -- on how we hope to move the ball forward through this collaborative strategy. We have more in the works.
Mozilla’s roots are as a community driven organization that works with others. We are constantly looking for allies and collaborators to work with on our trustworthy AI efforts. As a part of this, we are looking for AI experts to join our program advisory board.
What is trustworthy?
Our definition of trustworthy AI is encompassed by two key concepts: agency and accountability. We will know we have built and designed AI that is serving rather than harming humanity when:
All AI is designed with personal agency in mind. Privacy, transparency and human wellbeing are key considerations.
Companies are held to account when their AI systems make discriminatory decisions, abuse data, or make people unsafe.
Mozilla is a part of a growing chorus of voices calling for a better direction for AI. Dozens of groups have put out principles and guidelines describing what this might look like. We’re excited to see this momentum and to work with others to make this vision a reality. See AI goals framework in appendix.
What’s at stake?
AI is playing a role in everything from directing our attention to deciding who gets mortgages to solving complex human problems. This will have a big impact on humanity. The stakes include:
- Privacy: Our personal data powers everything from traffic maps to targeted advertising.
Trustworthy AI should let people decide how their data is used and what decisions are made with it.
- Fairness: We’ve seen time and again that historical bias can show up in automated decision making.
To effectively address discrimination, we need to look closley at the goals and data that fuel our AI.
- Trust: Algorithms on sites like YouTube often push people towards extreme, misleading content.
Overhauling these content recommendation systems could go a long way to curbing misinformation.
- Safety: Experts have raised the alarm that AI could increase security risks and cyber crime. Platform
developers will need to create stronger measures to protect our data and personal security.
- Transparency: Automated decisions can have huge personal impact, yet the reasons for decisions
are often opaque. We need breakthroughs in explainability and transparency to protect users.
Many people do not understand how AI regularly touches our lives and feel powerless in the face of these systems. Mozilla is dedicated to making sure the public understands that we can and must have a say in when machines are used to make important decisions – and shape how those decisions are made.
How do we move the ball forward?
1. Help developers build more trustworthy AI.
Goal: developers increasingly build things using trustworthy AI guidelines and technologies.
What we’re doing now: working with professors at 17 universities across the US to develop curriculum on ethics and responsible design for computer science undergraduates.
Where we need help: we are looking for partners to scale this work in Europe and Asia, and to find ways to work with developers, designers and project managers already working in the industry.
2. Generate interest and momentum around trustworthy AI technology.
Goal: trustworthy AI products and services (personal agents, data trusts, offline data, etc.) are increasingly embraced by early adopters and attract investment.
What we’re doing now: developing open source voice technology for others to build on, and supporting Mozilla Fellows and others doing early pilot work on concepts like data trusts.
Where we need help: we’re looking for people with novel yet pragmatic ideas on how to make trustworthy AI a reality. We also want to meet and learn from investors in this space.
3. Build consumer demand -- and encourage consumers to be demanding.
Goal: consumers choose trustworthy products when available and call for them when they aren’t.
What we’re doing now: highlighting trustworthy products through our Privacy Not Included buyer’s guide, and pushing platforms like YouTube and PayPal for AI and data related product changes.
Where we need help: we’re looking for more trustworthy products to highlight, and for people both inside and outside major tech companies who can help us drive product improvements.
4. Encourage governments to promote trustworthy AI.
Goal: new and existing laws are used to make the AI ecosystem more trustworthy.
What we’re doing now: building more momentum for trustworthy AI and better data protection in Europe through Mozilla Fellows, partner orgs and lobbying across the region.
Where we need help: we’re looking for additional partners to help us sharpen our thinking on where we can have the most impact on the current political window of opportunity in Europe.
Mozilla exists to guard the open nature of the internet and to ensure it remains a global public resource, open and accessible to all. Founded as a community open source project in 1998, Mozilla currently consists of two organizations: the 501(c)3 Mozilla Foundation, which leads our movement building work; and its wholly owned subsidiary, the Mozilla Corporation, which leads our market-based work. The two organizations work in concert with each other and a global community of tens of thousands of volunteers under the single banner: Mozilla.
The ‘trustworthy AI’ activities outlined in this document are primarily a part of the movement activities housed at the Mozilla Foundation -- efforts to work with allies around the world to build momentum for a healthier digital world. These include: thought leadership efforts like the Internet Health Report and the annual Mozilla Festival; $7M in fellowships and awards for technologists, policy makers, researchers and artists; and campaigns to mobilize public awareness and demand for more responsible tech products. Approximately 60% of the $25M/year invested in these efforts is focused on trustworthy AI.
Mozilla’s roots are as a collaborative, community driven organization. We are constantly looking for allies and collaborators to work with on our trustworthy AI efforts.
For more on Mozilla’s values, see: . Our Trustworthy AI goals framework builds on key manifesto principles including agency (principle 5), transparency (principle 8) and building an internet that enriches the lives of individual human beings (principles 3).
For more on Trustworthy AI programs, see 
Theory of Change
The Theory of Change update will enable Mozilla & our allies to take both coordinated and decentralized action in a shared direction, towards collective impact on trustworthy AI.
It seeks to define:
- Tangible changes in the world we and others will pursue (aka long term outcomes)
- Strategies that we and others might use to pursue these outcomes
- Results we will hold ourselves accountable to
This is a placeholder for Mozilla's 2020 OKRs. These goals are the first rung on the ladder of our Theory of Change.
These documents are process based and help share the story of how Mozilla got to this goal and why.
- Impact goal summary (November 2018)
- Better machine decision making issue brief (November 2018)
- Existing MoFo Theory of Change (January 2018)
You can read more about the background for this project here.