The challenge

Artificial Intelligence and automated decision making are transforming the world. But too often these technologies are developed without consideration for the individuals and communities they affect. This means AI can exacerbate existing social justice challenges.

Justice, democracy and the rule of law:

Invasive data collection and use infringes people’s rights to privacy and autonomy.

Fake news and misinformation are amplified through algorithmic recommendation systems and have a negative impact on democracy and, as seen in the Covid pandemic, public health.

People cannot seek redress from harms caused by AI due to a lack of transparency about where systems are deployed, difficulty in proving harms and the absence of routes to justice.

Labour rights and consumer protection:

Algorithmic management affects gig workers’ pay and conditions and has been found to discriminate against workers who strike, while surveillance technologies are being deployed to monitor employees.

Consumers are not adequately protected from the potential economic harms of AI in either existing or proposed regulation.

Equity and anti-discrimination:

A wide range of AI systems, including search engines, advertisements, recommendation engines, predictive policing and automated hiring, have been identified as discriminatory and exacerbate existing structural injustices.

Climate crisis and sustainability:

The environmental impact of AI technologies includes mineral extraction for devices, e-waste and energy consumption for data storage and training AI systems.

AI is also being deployed to accelerate consumption and environmentally damaging industries such as oil extraction.

The opportunity

Policymakers are catching up with the impacts of technological change and are developing regulation with the potential to set a new direction for AI in Europe and globally. With the right skills and capacity, civil society organisations can shape these policies so that AI serves the needs of people and society. And they can use new laws to hold those who develop and deploy AI to account and defend the interests of the communities affected by technological change.

 

Achieving this requires an ecosystem of civil society organisations that can represent the diversity of sectors and communities that intersect with AI and deploy a range of approaches to make change happen. It also needs a funding landscape that can cultivate and sustain this work.

Our contribution

Since being set up in 2020, our partners have contributed almost €7 million to support the European AI & Society Fund’s mission. With that money we have supported almost 40 organisations from around Europe to shape Artificial Intelligence to better serve people and society.

 

We work to increase the capacity of organisations with existing expertise around AI as well as to support organisations from other social justice areas into the field. Our grantees have helped put fundamental rights and democratic freedoms at the heart of policymaking on AI, and have brought the perspectives of marginalised communities such as migrants and sex workers into the debate. They’re also addressing how AI intersects with areas like health inequality, criminal justice and agriculture. As well as offering financial support, we help organisations build networks, gain skills and work collaboratively to drive change. Read more about our grantees here.

 

Our work is guided by our Strategy 2023-2025 that was adopted by our partner foundations in October 2022.

 

Fourteen foundations have joined the European AI Fund so far, committing to support our mission. We share insights from our work with our partners and the wider philanthropic community and remain committed to engaging more funders to sustain civil society’s work on AI. Read more about our partners here.

Our team

The fund is run by Catherine Miller, Alexandra Toth, Peggye Totozafy and Līva Vikmane, with support from other members of the Network of European Foundations staff, as well as occasional external advisors.

Each of our funding partners takes part in our Steering Committee which helps set the strategic direction. Our current co-chairs are Guillermo Beltrà of Luminate and Carla Hustedt of Stiftung Mercator.

Carla Hustedt

Co-Chair of the Steering Committee

Carla Hustedt is the director of the “Centre for Digital Society” at the Mercator Foundation. She has been working on the societal impact of digitalisation for several years, until April 2021 as the head of the Bertelsmann Foundation’s “Ethics of Algorithms” project. Carla Hustedt is a member of the advisory board of the Center for Advanced Internet Studies (CAIS) and the initiative “SheTransformsIT. She holds a dual degree in Public Administration from the London School of Economics and the Hertie School of Governance with a focus on e-governance. In 2010 she founded the German-Ghanaian human rights organisation “Boa Nnipa”.

Guillermo Beltrà

Co-Chair of the Steering Committee

Guillermo Beltrà is the Policy Director at Luminate Strategic Initiatives. Previously Guillermo led the Technology and Society team at the Open Society Foundation’s Europe and Central Asia Program. In the past Guillermo also led Access Now’s policy team globally, and before that, he was director of Legal and Economic Affairs at the European Consumer Organisation, where he led the policy and advocacy work on digital and technology policy.

Catherine Miller

Director

catherine.miller@europeanaifund.org

Catherine leads the Fund’s team of five, making sure that everyone works in sync and looks after our strategic direction. Previously she worked in tech policy as Director of Policy and then CEO of Doteveryone, the responsible technology think tank, and as a consultant. Prior to that she had a career as an award-winning journalist for the BBC covering news and current affairs from around the world for TV, radio and online.

Catherine is based in Wuppertal, Germany.

Alexandra Toth

Programme Manager

Alexandra.toth@europeanaifund.org

Alexandra manages and innovates our grantmaking practices, and looks after monitoring, learning and evaluation of our work. Previously, she worked in the field of cultural diplomacy. Prior to that she worked in the government affairs team of a tech company and in the European Parliament.  She holds a Master’s degree in European Studies from ULB (Univesité Libre de Bruxelles).  Alexandra is fascinated by digital technologies and their implications on society.

Alexandra is based in Brussels, Belgium.

Johanna Pruessing

Senior Programme Manager

johanna.pruessing@europeanaifund.org

Johanna is responsible for programmatic strategy development and strategic grant-making.

Previously, she spent nearly five years at the Open Society Foundations. In her most recent role, she worked as a programme manager leading a grant-making portfolio at the intersection of technology and human rights, including work on targeted and mass surveillance, algorithmic harms, transnational digital repressions, and the implications of technology on justice and equity in Europe and Central Asia. Before that, Johanna worked at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in Warsaw, where she led the Human Rights Defenders programme’s tool development efforts. Johanna has studied Anthropology, Politics & Security and International Relations in Tubingen, Baku, London, and Moscow.

Johanna is based in Berlin, Germany.

Peggye Totozafy

Senior Partnerships Manager

peggye.totozafy@europeanaifund.org

Peggye looks after Fund’s partnerships and leads our fundraising efforts. Hailing from impact philanthropy, she specialises in pioneering approaches to boost corporate and foundation giving strategies. Previously, she served as both a fundraiser and a donors community builder at Epic Foundation, a global tech & impact-focused foundation. 

Her academic background includes a Master’s degree in International Relations with a focus on Humanitarian work from Sciences Po Paris, as well as a Master’s degree in Law with a focus on Tax & Wealth Management.

Peggye is based in Paris, France.

Līva Vikmane

Networks & Communications Manager

liva.vikmane@europeanaifund.org

Līva works with our community to facilitate learning and connections, and leads Fund’s communications. She comes from civil society sector, where she has held various roles doing policy, advocacy and campaigning. In her previous role at HateAid as EU policy and advocacy officer, she worked on the European tech policy and regulation, with a focus on gender-based online violence and users’ rights. Recently Līva completed a masters degree in Digital Media and Ethics at the University of Sussex, and is waiting for her graduation.

Līva is based in Brussels, Belgium.