Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Initiative for the Asia Pacific
9th December 2019 (Monday)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technological developments pose intricate and complex ethical questions that the industry alone cannot answer. Important research questions in the application of AI should be dealt with not only by companies building and deploying the technology, but also by independent academic research institutions. The latter are best equipped to pursue interdisciplinary research that will benefit society.

To help support rigorous and groundbreaking academic research in these areas, Facebook is collaborating with the Centre for Civil Society and Governance of The University of Hong Kong and the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Hong Kong (esteemed co-chair of the ICDPPC Permanent Working Group on Ethics and Data Protection in AI) to launch a Research Initiative to advance Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Asia Pacific region that takes into account different disciplinary perspectives. This line of research will also complement Facebook’s efforts that bolster independent research being done in these areas, like the TUM Institute for Ethics in AI and similar Research Awards offered in other countries and regions, such as India and Latin America.

The Research Initiative, through a Request for Proposals (RFP), will result in the production of papers from academic institutions, think tanks, and research organizations registered and operational across the Asia Pacific region. Proposals will be reviewed by a selection committee, and the entities whose proposals are selected will receive a research grant.

Research Themes
  • Policy makers are emphasizing the need for ethics by design (see ICDPPC Declaration on Ethics and Data Protection in Artificial Intelligence here). What kinds of policy actions or regimes can foster academia and industry to collaborate for promoting and advancing ethics by design practices and frameworks?
  • How can developers and companies ensure that their AI systems are explainable, what is the purpose of the latter, and what does it entail?
  • How can academia help companies and governments better understand and operationalize ethics within their own sectors and activities? How can academia both inspire and build on industry best practices for responsible and ethical development of AI?
  • How can developers and companies ensure that their AI systems and applications are built in a fair and unbiased way? How should social science and humanities questions around fairness and discrimination be embedded into the technical design of AI? What best practices can we advance in this space?
  • How can developers and companies ensure that their AI systems are transparent to the affected individuals in a meaningful way? (For example: how will a person know whether he or she is being unfairly discriminated against because of an automated decision?)
  • What level of autonomy or control should be provided to the affected individuals concerning the use of AI without compromising the legitimate purposes of AI, and how should the control be provided?

2) Governance

  • How do formal legal instruments, including existing and proposed legislation, and ethical AI governance frameworks (informal) interact and mutually influence each other? Does the former stem or preempt the latter, and are they complementary or competing?
  • What is the role of Ethical Codes in the broader regulatory landscape? How should they relate to laws and regulations (either existing or being debated)?
  • What is the role of academia in 1) promoting research on AI Governance Frameworks; 2) analyzing, anticipating, and identifying gaps in legislation and other governance models related to AI development and use; and 3) articulating best practices to guide ethical and innovative uses of data?

3) AI Ethics & Diversity

  • How should AI developers and companies foster and apply a multicultural approach to the ethical design of AI?
  • How can we reconcile and strike a balance between the benefits of a global approach to the need to acknowledge important particularities and differences stemming from companies’ regional user base?
  • What would be a sound and scalable methodology for researchers and product developers to recognize and solve ethical challenges, while leveraging different regional perspectives?

To Apply

The Request For Proposals is open to academic institutions, think tanks, and research organizations registered and operational in the Asia Pacific region. The questions and themes under each of the 3 key areas below are just examples of possible research questions. Applicants are encouraged to come up with their own proposals and to leverage, as much as possible, regional context and local examples in their submissions.

We ask applicants to submit a 2-3-page proposal. The proposal should include:

  • A research question and a clear statement of work that can be completed within 6 months of award. Applicants are encouraged to leverage, as much as possible, regional context and local examples in their submissions.
  • A summary of the project (1-2 pages) explaining the area of focus, a description of techniques, relevant prior work, and a timeline with milestones and expected outcomes (recall that the timeline should not be more than 6 months)
  • A draft budget description (<1 page) including an approximate cost of the award and explanation of how funds would be spent. Proposals are highly encouraged to focus funding on project personnel, especially PhD students. Proposals from small collaborative teams are also encouraged. The proposed budget should be within USD 30,000 (overhead is typically limited to 5-8%). Please note that in the submission form you will be asked to provide the requested amount in USD.
  • Name(s) of the researcher(s) involved in the proposed work with their CV/resume.
  • Indication of any previous or current connections/collaborations with Facebook (in which case, please provide context and name the Facebook contacts).
  • Successful awardees will be listed on the Facebook Research website and will be encouraged to openly publish any findings/insights from their work. Research findings will also serve as the basis for discussions for a workshop to be held in Hong Kong in September/ October 2020 and in Germany in November 2020.
  • Applications should be submitted by 31 January 2020.
  • Enquiries may be directed to Miss Jass WU (
  • Organizations must be a nonprofit or non-governmental organization with recognized legal status in their respective country (equal to 501(c)(3) status under the United States Internal Revenue Code) and should comply with the applicable laws to receive foreign funds in their respective country.
  • Applicants must be the Principal Investigator on any resulting award.
  • Each applicant may submit one proposal per solicitation.

Timeline and DatesSteps to submit a proposal:

Request For Proposals: 9 December 2019
Submission deadline: 31 January 2020
Selection of proposals: February to March 2020 (Due to the overwhelming number of applications, the assessment period is now extended to March 2020.)
Notification of result: May 2020
Fund disbursement: 2nd Quarter of 2020 (Payment will be made to the applicant’s host institution as an unrestricted gift. The process will start in Q2.)
Online Roundtable: 10 September 2021 (Details and Registration)
Discussion Workshop at the Technical University of Munich: December 2021
Receipt of research papers: 1st Quarter of 2022
Terms and conditions
  • By submitting a proposal, you are authorizing Facebook and the Centre for Civil Society and Governance to evaluate the proposal for a potential award, and you agree to the terms herein.
  • You agree that Facebook and the Centre for Civil Society and Governance will not be required to treat any part of the proposal as confidential or protected by copyright.
  • You agree and acknowledge that personal data submitted with the proposal, including name, mailing address, phone number, and email address of you and other named researchers in the proposal may be collected, processed, stored and otherwise used by Facebook and the Centre for Civil Society and Governance for the purposes of administering the website and evaluating the contents of the proposal.
  • You acknowledge that neither party is obligated to enter into any business transaction as a result of the proposal submission, Facebook or the Centre for Civil Society and Governance is under no obligation to review or consider the proposal, and neither party acquires any intellectual property rights as a result of submitting the proposal.
  • Any feedback you provide to Facebook or the Centre for Civil Society and Governance in the proposal regarding its products or services will not be treated as confidential or protected by copyright, and Facebook and the Centre for Civil Society and Governance is free to use such feedback on an unrestricted basis with no compensation to you.

Vetting Committee Member

Category :   Event

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