Schmidt Futures Announces First Cohort of AI2050 Early Career Fellows

November 8, 2022

Fifteen Early Career Fellows Selected to Solve Hard Problems in Artificial Intelligence Through Interdisciplinary Research, With Up To $4 Million in Support from Schmidt Futures 

NEW YORK, November 8, 2022 — Today, Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic initiative of Eric and Wendy Schmidt, announced the first cohort of fifteen AI2050 Early Career Fellows who will pursue bold and multidisciplinary research in artificial intelligence (AI) at ten universities and one national laboratory. The AI2050 Early Career Fellows will work on the hard problems we must solve in order for AI to benefit society. The program is part of Schmidt Futures’ mission to support talent at various stages in their careers from around the globe who are solving hard problems in science and society. 

AI2050 is a program at Schmidt Futures that advances Eric and Wendy Schmidt’s $125 Million commitment over the next 5 years to support exceptional people working on key opportunities and solutions to hard problems that are critical to ensure society benefits from AI. Through the Early Career Fellowship, AI2050 is betting on bold, ambitious, multi-disciplinary AI research from a cohort of exceptional scholars who are all grappling with the program’s motivating question in their respective disciplines: “It’s 2050. AI has turned out to be hugely beneficial to society. What happened? What are the most important problems we solved and the opportunities and possibilities we realized to ensure this outcome?” The Early Career Fellows will join the community of AI2050 experts including the 5 Senior Fellows who were named in February 2022.

“We must all ensure that AI is not created in isolation, and accordingly, pay attention to both its potential benefits and risks,” said Eric Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Futures. “AI will transform our lives and futures, so the time is right to bet on these experts working to find the best ways to develop AI which can advance scientific progress, earn public trust, and deliver benefits for all.”

Drawing on previous work in AI, and through numerous conversations with experts, AI2050 published an initial working list of Hard Problems in AI when the program launched in February. This list is aimed at realizing the opportunity for society from AI as well as addressing the risks and challenges that could result from the technology, and it will guide the program’s investments, including the Early Career Fellowship. These hard problems include solving for the technical capabilities of AI, deploying AI responsibly, and harnessing AI for the benefit of society. Each Fellow’s research will contribute to progress against these hard problems. Outputs from the Fellows’ research will be shared publicly in the coming years.  

AI2050 has allocated up to $4 Million to support the Early Career Fellows’ inaugural cohort’s interdisciplinary efforts to advance work on the Hard Problems in AI. Fellows are eligible to receive up to $300,000 over two years and will have access to Schmidt Futures’ network of global talent to advance their AI research in fields including computer science, economics, political science, and philosophy. 

Schmidt Futures is excited to announce the following scholars as inaugural Early Career Fellows: 

  • Aditi Raghunathan, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Adji Bousso Dieng, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Princeton University
  • Baobao Zhang, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Syracuse University
  • Bryan Wilder, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Connor Coley, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Dylan Hadfield-Menell, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Elizaveta Semenova, Ph.D, Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Oxford 
  • Gissella Bejarano, Ph.D, Postdoctoral Research Scientist, Baylor University
  • Huan Zhang, Ph.D, Postdoctoral Researcher, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Jennifer Ngadiuba, Ph.D, Associate Scientist, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory 
  • John Zerilli, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, University of Edinburgh
  • Karina Vold, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, University of Toronto 
  • Qian Yang, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Cornell University 
  • Sam Kriegman, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Northwestern University 
  • Sina Fazelpour, Ph.D, Assistant Professor, Northeastern University

“For AI to be beneficial to society, we must accelerate progress on the hardest problems in the field. We hope the research progress of this group of exceptional, multidisciplinary scholars inspires new ideas within the global AI community, enables breakthroughs, and ensures a future in which we all benefit from this promising technology,” said James Manyika, co-chair of AI2050.

Conceived and co-chaired by Eric Schmidt and James Manyika, AI2050 stems in part from issues raised in the bestselling book, The Age of AI: And our Human Future, co-authored by Schmidt, Henry Kissinger, and Dan Huttenlocher. The program will build upon and amplify Schmidt Futures’  efforts totaling $400 million to support outstanding talent working with AI and other modern tools to solve hard problems in science and society.  

“AI2050 empowers young researchers to ask the big questions that can achieve game-changing breakthroughs,” said Eric Braverman, CEO of Schmidt Futures. “In building a community of extraordinary talent working across disciplines, we can leverage AI to address humanity’s greatest challenges.”

About Schmidt Futures:

Schmidt Futures bets early on exceptional people making the world better. Founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt, Schmidt Futures is a philanthropic initiative that brings talented people together in networks to prove out their ideas and solve hard problems in science and society. To learn more about our method and the diverse types of capital and tools that we deploy, visit: 

About AI2050:

AI2050 is an initiative of Schmidt Futures, conceived and co-chaired by Eric Schmidt and James Manyika, that aims to support exceptional people working on key opportunities and hard problems that are critical to get right for society to benefit from AI. To learn more about the initiative, visit:  

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