Humanities Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence

Humanities Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most powerful technologies of our time and will have profound consequences for civil rights and civil liberties, safety and security, and democratic values. Questions about the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI are fundamentally rooted in the humanities, which include ethics, law, history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, media studies, and cultural studies. Indeed, NEH’s founding legislation tasks the agency with making the American people “masters of their technology and not its unthinking servants.”

In October 2023, NEH launched a new agency-wide research initiative, Humanities Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence, to support research projects that seek to understand and address the ethical, legal, and societal implications of AI. NEH is particularly interested in projects that explore the impacts of AI-related technologies on truth, trust, and democracy; safety and security; and privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties.

NEH’s Humanities Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence initiative responds to President Biden’s Executive Order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence, which establishes new standards for AI safety and security, protects Americans’ privacy, and advances equity and civil rights. NEH’s investment in AI research also aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration’s priorities on research and development (R&D) on AI, as outlined in the White House’s National AI R&D Strategic Plan released earlier this year.

Humanities Perspectives on Artificial Intelligence initiative supports AI-related humanities projects through the following funding opportunities:

  • Humanities Research Centers on Artificial Intelligence
    This new NEH grant program provides up to $750,000 to universities and independent research organizations to support the creation of humanities research centers focusing on the ethical, legal, or societal implications of artificial intelligence. 
  • Dangers and Opportunities of Technology: Perspectives from the Humanities
    This NEH funding opportunity supports individuals and teams of scholars engaged in research that examines technology and its relationship to society through the lens of the humanities, with a focus on the dangers and/or opportunities presented by technology.
  • Collaborative Research
    NEH’s Collaborative Research funding opportunity advances humanistic knowledge by supporting teams of scholars working on a joint endeavor. Eligible projects include planning of an international AI research project or scholarly convening about AI.
  • Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities
    This NEH grant program supports national or regional training programs for scholars, humanities professionals, and advanced graduate students to broaden and extend their knowledge of digital humanities. Eligible projects include professional development programs on the latest research related to humanistic AI.
  • Independent scholars or those affiliated with an institution may apply for support to research and write about topics in AI and the humanities through NEH’s FellowshipsAwards for Faculty at HBCUsHSIs, and TCUs, Summer Stipends, or Public Scholars funding opportunities.