Mozilla Grants For Art & Advocacy
Written by Sue Gee   
Thursday, 07 June 2018

Mozilla has announced new awards with an emphasis on creativity and spreading a message about threats to a healthy Internet from rogue artificial intelligence and machine learning.


As we already know Mozilla is highly mission-focused and it see its mission is promote the Internet as a global public resource, open and accessible to all. In particular Mozilla strives for:

An Internet that truly puts people first, where individuals can shape their own experience and are empowered, safe and independent.

The Mozilla Foundation is also a founding member of the NetGain Partnership set up in 2015 as a collaboration also involving the Ford Foundation, Knight Foundation, MacArthur Foundation and the Open Society Foundation. Guided by a set of “Technology Principles” the NetGain Partnership seeks to influence policy, markets, norms and the design and use of the Internet and information technologies to make the world a better place. These awards are part of the NetGain initiative.

Announcing the awards on the Mozilla blog, Brett Gaylor writes:

We’re awarding $225,000 to technologists and media makers who help the public understand how threats to a healthy Internet affect their everyday lives.

According to Gaylor Mozilla is seeking projects that explore artificial intelligence and machine learning, explaining:

In a world where biased algorithms, skewed data sets, and broken recommendation engines can radicalize YouTube users, promote racism, and spread fake news, it’s more important than ever to support artwork and advocacy work that educates and engages internet users.

The requirements that projects need to meet are being accessible to broad audiences and native to the internet and can range from videos and games to browser extensions and data visualizations. The blog post includes examples of creative projects previously supported by Mozilla.

The judges will consider projects that are at either the conceptual or prototype phases. All projects must be freely available online and suitable for a non-expert audience. Projects must also respect users’ privacy.

The prize money will be distributed as: 

  • Two $50,000 packages
    ($47,500 award + $2,500 MozFest travel stipend)

  • Five $25,000 packages
    ($22,500 award + $2,500 MozFest travel stipend)

According to Gaylor:

Awardees will be selected based on quantitative scoring of their applications by a review committee and a qualitative discussion at a review committee meeting. Committee members include Mozilla staff, current and alumni Mozilla Fellows, and outside experts. Selection criteria are designed to evaluate the merits of the proposed approach. Diversity in applicant background, past work, and medium are also considered.

Applications will be accepted until August 1, 2018, and winners will be notified by September 15, 2018. Winners will be publicly announced on or around MozFest, which is held October 26-28, 2018.

For more information potential applicants should attend an informational webinar on Monday, June 18 (4pm EDT, 3pm CDT, 1pm PDT). You can sign up for this on a form found here.

Is this a good use of Mozilla's funds? Mozilla already supports open source projects, with grants ranging from less than $20K to $200K or more and that is something that seems a good use of its money. Personally I think that grants of $25K and $10K totalling $100K would have been more appropriate here and probably equally effective.

When you think of the number of worthwhile open source projects that are starved of funds this seems frivolous and verging on being disrespectful. There are other funding sources for this sort of thing but precious few for open source coding. This cash could have done so much more.


More Information

Mozilla Announces $225,000 for Art and Advocacy Exploring Artificial Intelligence

Mozilla Mission

NetGain Partnership

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Last Updated ( Friday, 08 June 2018 )