Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM join forces to set guidelines on future Artificial Intelligence research

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The end of September saw the formation of a new team of rivals: the Partnership on AI, whose motto is "to benefit people and society". The partnership includes tech giants Amazon, Google and its subsidiary Deepmind, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft. Its stated goals are "to study and formulate best practices on AI [Artificial Intelligence] technologies, to advance the public’s understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society." One way it hopes to achieve this goal is by setting out eight tenets of responsible development, posted on their new web-site. The tenets include:

  • ensuring that the privacy and security of individuals are protected;
  • working on AI technologies that are understandable and interpretable by people;
  • promoting "a culture of cooperation, trust, and openness among AI scientists and engineers".

In a press release, the Partnership says that the founding members will be contributing "financial and research resources... and will share leadership with independent third-parties, including academics, user group advocates, and industry domain experts. There will be equal representation of corporate and non-corporate members on the board of this new organization". At the moment, the Parternship's new site offers few specifics on how the Partnership will proceed. There is an "Events" page that is, for the moment, blank.

However, the simple act of forming this partnership indicates that the industry's major players realize that the field is at a point in its development where the public is starting to become aware and concerned about what the future of AI holds, and that some guidance and even vigilance is required.

Notable for its absence is Apple. In an article on the Partnership, the Guardian quotes interim co-chair Eric Horvitz as saying "We’ve been in discussions with Apple, I know they’re enthusiastic about this effort, and I’d personally hope to see them join." Perhaps other major players like Twitter and Yahoo are not far behind?