The U.S. National Science Foundation launched a new $16 million program in collaboration with five philanthropic partners that seeks to ensure ethical, legal, community and societal considerations are embedded in the lifecycle of technology’s creation and use.
As we enter a new year, the extraordinary technological developments that went mainstream last year show no sign of abating. “From generative AI to quantum computing, the pace of technology development is only accelerating,” says Katy Knight, President and Executive Director of Siegel Family Endowment.
But at the same time as news stories about internal tech company intrigue and technical advancements hold our attention, Knight cautions that there are more substantive issues we should be considering. “Too often, technological advances are not accompanied by discussion and design that considers negative impacts or unrealized potential,” she says.
That’s why Siegel Family Endowment is proud to be a founding philanthropic partner of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s newly launched $16 million Responsible Design, Development and Deployment of Technologies (ReDDDoT) program. The first-of-its-kind NSF program builds on the Public Interest Technology Infrastructure Fund (PIT-I Fund) that Siegel Family Endowment has led alongside the Ford Foundation, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, Pivotal Ventures, and the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fund for Strategic Innovation. It leverages a $4 million grant from the PIT-I Fund to secure $16 million of funding across a range of NSF Directorates, demonstrating that public interest technology is a priority investment for a range of stakeholders and fields.
Like the PIT-I Fund and Siegel Family Endowment’s own work on public interest technology, the ReDDDoT program takes a comprehensive technology life cycle perspective including the design, development, and deployment of technology; is committed to interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaboration; and—crucially—elevates the voices of marginalized communities.
Knight explains, “We’re excited to support ReDDDot as an opportunity to uplift new and often forgotten perspectives that critically examine technology’s impact on civic life, and advance Siegel Family Endowment’s vision of technological change that includes and improves the lives of all people.”
Soliciting a New Type of NSF Grantee
Importantly, the ReDDDot program will take a fresh approach to soliciting grantees. Through its partnership with philanthropic partners, the ReDDDoT program aims to make the NSF RFP process accessible to a wider range of organizations, including those who have not previously applied for NSF funding. Siegel Family Endowment is actively working to realize that vision by encouraging public interest technology partners representing a range of perspectives, fields, and approaches to apply for funding from the ReDDDoT program.