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Frequently Asked Questions

How do you define “safety” with respect to intelligent systems?

We take a broad view of the term safety, and do not restrict it to mean the lack of physical harm or danger. Rather, we see that an individual is safe when they are afforded the potential to live to their fullest potential, free of risk as an individual and as a society. Thus, designing for and evaluating safety means considering impacts to individuals, groups and society in all facets of wellbeing and flourishing 

Does my project concept need to address all of the components of the CASMI research mission or framework?

No. The intention of the Evaluation Framework and Research Roadmap is to decompose the complexity of the impacts of intelligent systems into more definable and focused research initiatives. Projects typically focus on making progress in a specific, discrete set of research questions or objectives within a specific area of focus. Please see the Call for Proposals section on Research Priority Areas for a list of some examples of individual focus areas that are of interest.  

Would this be appropriate for a project focused on intelligent systems within a specific domain or context?

Yes, it can be. While CASMI’s vision is for safety in intelligent systems broadly, research does not best progress in the abstract, but with the investigation of specific discrete problems. It is important, though, for projects that are focused within a specific domain or context to be able to articulate how its findings might be applicable more broadly to the understanding of impact and safety.  

Is CASMI intending to fund projects that expand into new areas, or already ongoing research agendas?

CASMI is absolutely interested in new or novel work expanding the horizons in areas where work is not being done currently. If you are already doing research work that aligns to the CASMI mission and focus areas, that can certainly be advantageous to a proposal, as long as the proposal outlines new work and distinct objectives and deliverables that will be supported with this project and funding.  

I am a researcher at an institution located outside the United States. Can I submit a proposal?

Yes! Proposals are not restricted to the United States. Provided your organization is a research organization that can enter into a subaward contract with Northwestern University, and your organization can provide a Letter of Intent supporting your eligibility to lead a proposal, you can submit.

Is there a preference or are there requirements for the personnel supported in a proposal?

CASMI proposals are expected to have a single acknowledged lead principal investigator. Other personnel and overall staffing should be commensurate with the project requirements and fit within the maximum budget. Co-PIs, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and other research associates can be funded in a project budget. There is no CASMI preference for a particular level or title for the personnel engaged in a project; the Project Team section of the Statement of Work should identify the team members and their individual roles or expected contributions.

Can my Co-PI be from a different institution than the PI? Can my proposal include collaboration with researchers outside my institution?

CASMI values connections across institutions, fields, perspectives and geographies. If appropriate, a proposal may include a subaward or subcontract to support a co-PI or other personnel or activity that may take place at an institution other than the primary institution of the proposal. If there is a proposed subaward, it should be clearly articulated in the statement of work, budget and budget justification. If additional guidance is needed on how to incorporate this into the proposal, please contact the CASMI team.

I have multiple project ideas that could align to CASMI research areas. Can I submit multiple proposals as a PI?

No. An individual PI can submit only one proposal. Please identify the project that you think is most critical and impactful to your work and to the research mission to propose. There is no limit to the number of proposals that may be submitted from a single organization, however.

I have in mind a project concept that is bigger than the constraints of this call (longer than two years in duration or more than the max budget). Can I still submit a proposal?

The problems in this research space are complex, and we appreciate that significant effort and novel approaches may be necessary to address them. Consider if it’s possible to develop a proposal to accomplish a definable phase of your concept that would fit within the call parameters and produce meaningful output toward the ultimate goals. If that does not seem viable, please contact us to provide your thoughts on what would be necessary to best support critical work. As CASMI is continuing to evolve, we would greatly appreciate the feedback to refine our approach to make the most meaningful impact toward the mission. 

While these answers should provide general guidance, if you have further specific questions on your concept or approach that are not addressed here or in the call for proposal requirements, please reach out to us at casmi@northwestern.edu 

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