New York University’s Silver School of Social Work has received what NYU called one of the largest gifts ever given to such a school, which will be used to try to crack open new insights into the problems of racism and social inequality.
NYU announced the $16 million donation from Dr. Constance and Martin Silver on June 10. The Silvers want to help NYU apply the growing power of big data and artificial intelligence to the field of social work, with the aim of inspiring breakthrough answers to urgent social problems.
The school of social work was named after the Silvers in 2007 after they gifted $50 million to it. Constance Silver is a Ph.D. in psychoanalysis as well as a social worker, educator and artist. Her husband, Martin Silver founded Life Resources/DCI Biologicals, an innovative plasma collection company that was sold to the United Kingdom’s Department of Health in 2002.
About one-third of the gift will go to the NYU McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research to establish an artificial intelligence hub to address poverty and break down the racial barriers to health equity. Much of the remaining $11 million will help NYU Silver and the larger social work profession create evidence-informed interventions to equitably root out family violence, knock down impediments to health and mental health care and end mass incarceration. The money will also endow a new professorship in data science and prevention.
Michael A. Lindsey, executive director of NYU McSilver, said in a statement that the gift comes at an opportune moment because artificial intelligence has the potential to be a curse rather than a blessing for society.
“Artificial intelligence holds promise for innovations leading to the development of novel interventions that improve health, education and well-being for poverty-impacted and marginalized communities,” he said. “This technology also has the potential to perpetuate long-standing inequities, if we are not careful. Therefore, the work of the A.I. Hub at McSilver will be to lead cross-disciplinary research, intervention development, policy advocacy and public conversations for using A.I. to improve lives equitably.”
NYU is a private research university in New York City.