Open letter to the National Science Foundation

I already sent this letter (on March 12, 2024) to the National Science Foundation, but I am making it public here as well:

Dear National Science Foundation,

My name is Dr. Jason Polak. I have a doctorate in mathematics from McGill University in Canada and several published papers. I hope you will pass this letter on to the relevant people in your organization. My letter concerns funding procedures.

It is clear that mathematics and computer science are at the point where they are starting to have some very serious effects on society. This is especially true concerning AI: AI has the potential to disrupt every aspect of society. It does so in three main ways: it takes away a mass amount of jobs, it isolates people, and it also provides a drug for the general populace so that they do not notice the incredible damage technology has done to the natural world.

On the other hand, mathematicians and computer science create the knowledge and technology required for AI and advanced computers. But still, they do not operate within any ethical framework like medical research does. I believe the NSF has the requirement to make sure funding for medical science is only used in ethical research.

To this end, I ask that the NSF consider an ethical requirement for mathematicians and computer scientists, too. The NSF should require that mathematicians and computer scientists follow ethical guidelines, which should include a clause that research will not be used for AI, or artificial intelligence, except where the research would identify the dangers of AI.

Right now, mathematicians and computer scientists have free reign and thus far too much influence on the world without any repercussions. They need to be held to an ethical standard, so all I ask is that your organization considers the development of such a standard so that obviously dangerous technology does not bring society down.

Jason Polak

Update: so far, it’s March 19, and I still have not gotten any response.

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