US private equity boss donates £150m to Oxford University for AI research
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US private equity boss donates £150m to Oxford University for AI research

Stephen Schwarzman said the world needed to wake up to the potential effects of the technology

Stephen Schwarzman speaking to Oxford students in 2016 (Credit: YouTube)
Stephen Schwarzman speaking to Oxford students in 2016 (Credit: YouTube)

An American Jewish banker has given the University of Oxford a staggering £150 million to set up an ethics centre for Artificial Intelligence.

Stephen Schwarzman, the billionaire boss of giant private equity firm Blackstone, made the donation on Wednesday. It was heralded as a “globally significant” investment by the British government.

In December Forbes listed Schwarzman as having a net worth of around £11 billion, and the Oxford donation is far from his biggest to a university – last year he gave £300 million to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, again for the study of Artificial Intelligence.

Announcing the Oxford gift, he said the world needed to wake up to the substantial effects that AI will soon have on every walk of life.

“At the moment, most governments are utterly unprepared to deal with this, and why would they be, it’s a different type of technology,” he said.

“They’re going to have to rely on great universities like Oxford, and others around the world who specialise in helping them think this through.”

He said his money would fund an AI ethics centre because it is “important for people to remember what being human is… Why are we here? What are your values? How does technology deal and interact with that?”

He added that while “we should want it to be positive and productive for society, technology can’t be allowed to just do whatever it wants because it can”.

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