Google’s philanthropic arm is launching a multimillion-dollar effort to aid workers impacted by some of the tech championed by its parent company.
Google.org said Wednesday that it’s set aside $50 million to fund nonprofits focused on teaching new job skills and supporting low-wage earners in preparation for advances in automation and artificial intelligence that could upend many of the world’s labor markets.
“We want to make sure that as many people as possible can make the most of the new jobs, industries and opportunities that are emerging—some of which we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago,” Google.org president Jacquelline Fuller wrote in a blog post announcing the endeavor.
Among the groups already selected for the grant are three nonprofits that each aim to revamp or supplement social services with technology. Fuller specifically cites Code For America’s mission to give more job seekers access to government career search services, a Bayes Impact project to deliver job search tips to French citizens via machine learning, and Social Finance’s efforts to create effective youth training programs.
On the more traditional end, Google.org will also back the National Domestic Workers Alliance in its bid to expand its own monthly-fee service that pools worker resources to relieve the financial burden of emergency time off.
Around $2 million of the allotted $50 million is earmarked for Google.org’s own research efforts as well. The company wants to better understand “what the world’s fast-changing workforce will need in the years to come and how technology can help produce positive outcomes.”
As Recode points out, however, the announcement neglects to mention the role Google itself is playing in advancing the sort of AI and automation technology that threatens jobs. Between its driverless car bid and its substantial investments in various forms of artificial intelligence, Google holding company Alphabet is in many ways leading the charge towards this future.
But the group is explicit about the drastic impact this revolution could have. More than a third of jobs in the near future will involve skills that are still rare in today’s workforce, it says. And the increasingly isolated nature of modern work has already distanced workers from traditional avenues of social support like concrete benefits and unions.
The group celebrated the unveiling at a Washington D.C. event with Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, who’s spearheaded efforts to provide health insurance for the gig economy labor force.
“We’ve morphed from this traditional notion where you work for the same firm 30 years, to this notion, particularly for millennials, where the question is not ‘Where do you work?’ but ‘What are you working on?’” Warner said in a speech praising the push, The Hill reported.
Taken together with another related $50 million fund towards improving education, Fuller said the program marks Google’s most ambitious philanthropic drive to date, according to the newspaper.