Jackson Institute announces Schmidt program on artificial intelligence, emerging technologies and national energy


The Jackson Institute for Global Affairs announced Tuesday that it will establish the Schmidt Program on Artificial Intelligence, Emerging Technologies, and National Power, fostering interdisciplinary AI and cyberspace-focused research and education.

The Schmidt program is a new initiative of International Security Studies at Yale, thanks to a donation of $ 15.3 million from the Schwab Charitable Fund – thanks to the donation of Eric and Wendy Schmidt and as recommended by their foundation, Schmidt Futures . The program will serve as a “center for academics and practitioners” to work across disciplines on research and teaching on the potential implications of emerging artificial intelligence.

“It’s an interdisciplinary program that will give political students better exposure to some of the technical concepts, and conversely, it will help us interact with members of the STEM community across the University, and think about how to bring these students into the mix for some of the current courses that we are offering in Jackson, ”said Ted Wittenstein, executive director of ISS. “It will be an opportunity to collaborate and connect across the University, which I think makes us all excited about the opportunities ahead.”

The program grew out of “huge interest” among students at the Jackson Institute to better understand the technical knowledge behind emerging threats to international security and the conversations about how cybersecurity and artificial intelligence trends are changing. the nature of global affairs, said Wittenstein. He told the News that the institute’s current course offerings in these areas are already incredibly in demand.

The program will invite technologists and practitioners to Yale as Senior Schmidt Scholars, and provide postdoctoral fellowships to visiting Schmidt scholars. Some of the program’s initial research areas will include cyber warfare, AI governance, and competition in US-China relations. The program will also establish new course offerings in AI and technology, in addition to hosting symposia, workshops and conferences.

“The Schmidt program will help us build even more bridges across the university, expanding the scope of our collaboration to the transformational threats and opportunities associated with artificial intelligence,” said Jim Levinsohn, director of the Jackson Institute. “AI is reshaping our world, and it is essential that the future leaders we train here in Jackson understand its many implications.”

The program is made possible by a large endowment from Eric and Wendy Schmidt.

Eric Schmidt was the former CEO of Google from 2001 to 2011 and was its executive chairman from 2011 to 2018. He is currently technical advisor to Google. Wendy Schmidt is the President of the Schmidt Family Foundation, which holds over $ 1 billion in philanthropic assets. Together, they co-founded Schmidt Futures in 2017.

Schmidt Futures CEO Eric Braverman ’97 LAW ’02 is a senior lecturer at the Yale School of Management and a member of the Jackson Advisory Board since 2019.

“We are delighted to establish the Schmidt program,” wrote Eric Schmidt in an email to News. “Understanding the transition to an AI-driven world and developing a guiding ethics for it will require the commitment and insight of many elements of society: scientists and strategists, statesmen and philosophers, clergymen and CEOs. Yale University brings together the best and brightest in all of these fields, forming the interdisciplinary approach that understanding AI will require. “

Eric Schmidt is also the co-author of four books, three of which relate to the field of technology. His most recent book, “The Age of AI: Our Human Future”, was co-authored by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Daniel Huttenlocher.

As part of the program, Wittenstein will teach a new one-year course titled “Artificial Intelligence, Emerging Technologies and National Power” with other professors from the University.

“There is a wide range of concepts here that are changing the nature of international relations, and those who aspire to political careers… need… a technical mastery to try to meet these challenges,” Wittenstein said. “I think at the Jackson Institute we instinctively think about how AI interacts with global affairs, security concerns, and geopolitical tensions in US-China relations, and while these are important, it There are technical, legal and ethical dimensions of these technologies that we are eager to explore and that our students really want to know more about.

Wittenstein currently teaches undergraduate, graduate, and law courses in intelligence, cybersecurity, and national security decision-making. He previously held positions in the United States Department of Defense, the Committee on United States Intelligence Capabilities Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the State Department.

History professor and director of the ISS, Arne Westad, described Wittenstein as an “important player” in shaping the plans for the program.

“We wanted [the Schmidt Program] be at the forefront of what people are looking for and thinking about [AI and emerging technology]”Westad told The News.” We also did it in an effort to try to think of this in a way that doesn’t just benefit one country: it’s not a program that’s designed or set up just to look at these things from a US perspective. We have to look at this from a global perspective and figure out what kinds of challenges there are in a global sense. “

Westad emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary study when researching and teaching emerging technologies.

“From where I sit I am constantly reminded that intellectually and philosophically much of what we are examining here has a background and a story, which can actually tell us where we are today and where we are. could go, ”Westad said.

Westad added that “people who study this historically” can play an important role in better understanding past challenges. He also stressed that it is “extremely important that sociologists and humanists better understand the technological aspects of this”.

As part of the program, a new ‘AI Symposium’ with visiting experts will be held from spring 2022. The symposium will feature public lectures and classroom tours open to the entire Yale community.

The program will also co-sponsor the Yale Cyber ​​Leadership Forum 2022, a partnership between the Jackson Institute and the Center for Global Legal Challenges at Yale Law School. The forum, led by law professor Oona Hathaway LAW ’97, will invite lawyers, entrepreneurs, policy makers and academics to explore the implications of the development of AI on national security.

“The Schmidt program will give us the resources we need to invest in scholarship and education on emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence and cyber computing,” Hathaway wrote in an email to News . “Jackson is a particularly good home for this program, as it serves as a kind of hub for the university, bringing together academics and students from various fields, from law and political science to engineering, computer science and data science. “

Computer science professor Joan Feigenbaum emphasized the importance of this program for the study of technology at Yale.

According to Feigenbaum, the “interaction” between AI and international relations – and more broadly between IT and politics – has been increasingly important on the global stage.

“There is a lot of student interest in the subject here at Yale, and the Schmidt program will provide resources and opportunities for the development of new courses and new interdisciplinary research projects,” Feigenbaum wrote in an email. to the News.

Eric Schmidt echoed Feigenbaum’s sentiments and said that the upcoming opening of the Jackson School of Global Affairs has inspired “the opportunity to design the curriculum for the 21st century rather than the 20th.”

The Jackson School of Global Affairs, which opens in fall 2022, will be the first new vocational school at Yale in more than 40 years.

“Encouraging more research and studies on the impact of AI in all segments of society is one of the biggest investments we can make in our future,” wrote Eric Schmidt. “Wendy and I are confident that the Schmidt program will foster innovation to uncover the complexities of AI technologies and how they will profoundly transform the way humans view the world. “

In March, Eric and Wendy Schmidt donated $ 150 million to the Broad Institute for advanced research in biology using data science and artificial intelligence to fight disease. On Tuesday, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan pledged $ 500 million to Harvard to study natural and artificial intelligence.


Miranda Jeyaretnam is the beat reporter covering the Jackson Institute of Global Affairs and developments at the National University of Singapore and Yale-NUS for the YDN University office. She was previously an opinion writer for the Yale Daily News under the YDN Board of Directors of 2022 and wrote as a columnist for her opinion piece “Crossing the Aisle” in the spring of 2020. From Singapore, she is second. year at Pierson College, majoring in English. .