Google, Facebook and Amazon unite to shape future of artificial intelligence

30/09/2016

The world's biggest technology companies, including Alphabet, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM has teamed up to consider the future of artificial intelligence.

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The self-governing body, called Partnership on AI, is tasked with conducting research and promoting best practices.

The group of tech companies will come together frequently to discuss advancements in artificial intelligence.

The group also opens up a formal structure for communication across company lines.

The group of technology giants hold some of the largest databases in the world, and as AI becomes ever-more important to make sense of this data, it’s important that these competing companies has a formal structure to communicate and establish guidelines in this area.

User activists, non-profits, ethicists and other stakeholders will be joining the discussion in the future.

One notable absentee from the consortium is Apple. It has been in discussions with the group and may join the partnership "soon", according to one member.

The group will have an equal share of corporate and non-corporate members and is in discussions with organisations such as the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.

It stressed that it had no plans to "lobby government or other policy-making bodies".

"AI has tremendous potential to improve many aspects of life, ranging from healthcare, education and manufacturing to home automation and transport and the founding members... hope to maximise this potential and ensure it benefits as many people as possible," it said.

It will conduct research under an open licence in the following areas:

  • ethics, fairness and inclusivity
  • transparency
  • privacy and interoperability (how AI works with people)
  • trustworthiness, reliability and robustness
  • Microsoft's managing director of research hailed the partnership as a "historic collaboration on AI and its influences on people and society", while IBM's ethics researcher Francesca Rossi said it would provide "a vital voice in the advancement of the defining technology of this century".

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