Schmidt Sciences Names Wharton Professor Daniel Rock to Second Cohort of AI2050 Early Career Fellows

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Nineteen Early Career Fellows Selected to Solve Challenges in Artificial Intelligence Through Multidisciplinary Research, With Up To $5.5 Million in Support from Schmidt Sciences

Daniel Rock, Wharton Assistant Professor of Operations, Information, and Decisions

NEW YORK, March 4, 2024 — Today, Schmidt Sciences announced that Wharton Professor Daniel Rock will join the second cohort of nineteen AI2050 Early Career Fellows who will pursue bold and multidisciplinary research in artificial intelligence (AI) for societal benefit across four countries, six disciplines, and seventeen institutions. The AI2050 Early Career Fellows are a part of the Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Computing Institute at Schmidt Sciences, which supports fundamental research in AI, the application of AI and data science across a wide variety of disciplines, and the creation of high-impact research platforms that can speed discovery.

Conceived and co-chaired by Eric Schmidt and James Manyika, AI2050 advances Eric and Wendy Schmidt’s $125 million commitment over five years to identify and support talented individuals seeking solutions to ensure society benefits from AI. The AI2050 Early Career Fellowship encourages young researchers to pursue bold and ambitious work on difficult challenges as well as promising opportunities in AI, which often involves research that is multidisciplinary, risky, and hard to fund through traditional means. 15-20 early career researchers around the world are selected annually through a rigorous process. Early Career Fellows receive an award to support a two-year project as well as non-monetary support, such as connections to stakeholders to help them amplify impact.

Daniel Rock, an Assistant Professor of Operations, Information and Decisions at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, researches the economic effects of digital technologies and artificial intelligence. His work focuses on information systems, the future of work and automation, productivity, and intangible assets. 

Within their research, each fellow will contend with the central motivating question of AI2050: 

“It’s 2050. AI has turned out to be hugely beneficial to society. What happened? What are the most important problems we solved and the opportunities and possibilities we realized to ensure this outcome?”  

Fellows will pull from their work across a variety of disciplines, including computer science, philosophy, economics, political science, earth sciences, and religion studies. Selected projects encompass ensuring advanced AI systems are aligned with human values, enhancing model robustness, improving the interpretability and transparency of black-box AI systems, understanding economic and disparate geographical considerations, examining the incentive structures behind content creation, and addressing climate-related challenges through AI-driven analysis of energy storage and greenhouse gas emissions, among others.

Professor Rock will build a new toolkit for measuring the impact of AI on work. Through analyzing unstructured economic data, such as job postings, he will measure the impact of AI on job creation and technological dissemination, which will lead to the creation of an open-sourced large language model for future economic research.

“Modern AI systems are rapidly scaling in both capabilities and impact, with the potential to unlock profound discoveries,” said Eric Schmidt, co-founder, with his wife Wendy, of Schmidt Sciences and AI2050 co-chair. “These AI2050 Early Career Fellows will tackle challenging issues in AI to uphold safety, reliability, and promising benefits for humanity.”

AI2050 has allocated up to $5.5 million to support the 2023 cohort of Early Career Fellows in their multidisciplinary efforts to advance work on the Hard Problems in AI. Fellows are eligible to receive up to $300,000 over two years and will join the Schmidt Sciences network of experts to advance their AI research in fields including computer science, economics, political science, and philosophy. 

“AI is now ubiquitous in our daily lives, and the race is on to get it right,” said James Manyika, co-chair of AI2050. “If AI is to have benefited humanity when we look back in 2050, we need to begin now to confront and solve for the challenges and opportunities such as those framed by the AI2050 Hard Problems list. We have to evolve our society’s systems and institutions to negotiate the complexities of how to be human in an age of increasingly powerful technology.”

In 2022, AI2050 published an initial working list of Hard Problems in AI, designed to both harness the opportunities and societal potential of AI, and confront the associated risks and challenges. The list will guide the program’s investments, including the Early Career Fellowship. These hard problems include solving for the technical capabilities of AI, deploying AI responsibly, and harnessing AI for the benefit of society. Each Fellow’s research will contribute to progress against these hard problems. Findings from the Fellows’ research will be publicly shared in the coming years.

AI2050 continues this work within Schmidt Sciences, a new charitable organization that has evolved from the core science work achieved at Schmidt Futures over the past five years. Schmidt Sciences is led by Dr. Stuart Feldman, President and Chief Scientist, to foster advancements in science and technology that accelerate and deepen our understanding of the natural world and develop solutions to global issues. The core focus areas of the organization include: AI and Advanced Computing, Astrophysics and Space, Biosciences, Climate, and Cross-Science Programs.

About the Wharton School
Founded in 1881 as the world’s first collegiate business school, the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania is shaping the future of business by incubating ideas, driving insights, and creating leaders who change the world. With a faculty of more than 235 renowned professors, Wharton has 5,000 undergraduate, MBA, executive MBA, and doctoral students. Each year 100,000 professionals from around the world advance their careers through Wharton Executive Education’s individual, company-customized, and online programs, and thousands of pre-collegiate students explore business concepts through Wharton’s Global Youth Program. More than 105,000 Wharton alumni form a powerful global network of leaders who transform business every day. For more information, visit

About Schmidt Sciences
Schmidt Sciences is a philanthropy dedicated to fostering the advancements of science and technology that accelerate and deepen our understanding of the natural world and develop solutions to global issues. To learn more, please visit

About AI2050
AI2050 is an initiative of Schmidt Sciences, conceived and co-chaired by Eric Schmidt and James Manyika, that aims to support exceptional people working on key opportunities and hard problems that are critical to get right for society to benefit from AI. To learn more about the AI2050 initiative, visit: