Google, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM and Amazon form a historic partnership to make AI seem less terrifying

Much like goods and coins before it, data is becoming an important currency for the modern world. The data’s value is rooted in its applications to artificial intelligence. Whichever company owns the data, effectively owns AI. Right now that means companies like Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet, IBM and Microsoft have a ton of power.

The world’s largest technology companies hold the keys to some of the largest databases on our planet, and are now joining hands together to form an effective alliance, however, two big Silicon Valley names are missing from the team up, which aims to set societal and ethical best practice for artificial intelligence research.


The new non-profit organization is called “Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to benefit people and society” or simply Partnership on AI. The goal of the organization will be to study and create best AI practices relating to “ethics, fairness and inclusivity; transparency, privacy, and interoperability; collaboration between people and AI systems; and the trustworthiness, reliability and robustness of the technology,” according to the announcement. “It does not intend to lobby government or other policymaking bodies.”

It also aims to help the general crowd understand what AI is, and understand how it will influence people and society.

Artificial intelligence is becoming ubiquitous. As its reach grows and is engrained into consumer products and services, elements of control and regulation are required. True Artificial Intelligence might still be some decades away, but machine learning has become an important part of daily computing be it on smartphones or your PC.

Each of the five founding corporate members has strong AI research teams, some of which have become household names, such as IBM’s Watson and Amazon’s Alexa. Google’s involvement with the body is led by its London-based DeepMind subsidiary, a pure research organization that hit headlines in March when it built the first ever machine to beat a world-class human player of the ancient Asian board game Go.

Yet some organizations are conspicuous by their absence from the body.

Apple, which has been loudly trumpeting its own AI efforts in areas such as personal assistants, image recognition and voice control, is not included in the group. The company has a long history of going it alone even when other tech giants bury the hatchet. And then joining in later.  Microsoft’s Eric Horvitz, one of the partnership’s two interim co-chairs, said “We’ve been in discussions with Apple, I know they’re enthusiastic about this effort, and I’d personally hope to see them join.” Apple did not respond to requests for comment.

Don’t forget Elon Musk has been warning humanity about the dangers of AI, and has even said that when it comes to this, there’s one company that worries him in particular aka Google. Musk even set up a non-profit organization called OpenAI in 2015 to make sure that SkyNet doesn’t end up being a reality.

The eight goals this AI partnership hopes to achieve

1. Ensure AI technologies benefit and empower as many people as possible.

2. Educate and listen to the public and actively engage stakeholders to seek their feedback on our focus, inform them of our work, and address their questions.

3. Commit to open research and dialog on the ethical, social, economic, and legal implications of AI.

4. AI research and development efforts need to be actively engaged with and accountable to a broad range of stakeholders.

5. Engage with and have representation from stakeholders in the business community to help ensure that domain-specific concerns and opportunities are understood and addressed.

6. Work to maximize the benefits and address the potential challenges of AI technologies, by: protecting privacy;remain socially responsible; ensure research is robust, reliable and trustworthy; opposing development of AI that would violate international human rights.

7. Believe that it is important for the operation of AI systems to be understandable and interpretable by people, for purposes of explaining the technology.

8. Strive to create a culture of cooperation, trust, and openness among AI scientists and engineers to help us all better achieve these goals.

The partnership is built upon the notion that AI is a daunting, scary invention that the general public doesn’t necessarily trust or understand. By banding together, these tech companies are creating a united front—a show of good faith amongst competitors—to promise that this tectonic shift in computing won’t be at the disadvantage to the world.

Common fears that the group wants to head off are that AI will eliminate entire industries that employ humans, create disparate amounts of wealth for only those in control of AI, or accidentally spawn super-intelligence that seeks world domination. While the jury is still out as to whether a singularity event could threaten mankind, we already face a long list of challenges in today’s world of AI. Although computers are not at a point yet where they can take all of our jobs, they can amplify the negative tendencies that humans already possess. A biased world can result in biased data sets and, in turn, bias artificial intelligence frameworks.

The partnership hopes to include academics, non-profits, and independent researchers to bolster their research in coming months and while a large part of the group’s mission is to assuage fears, the partnership also creates a formal framework for sharing ideas about transparency and ethics between organizations.

via : Fortune


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