A new coalition to advance knowledge and set standard practices for the use of artificial intelligence has emerged, which includes tech giants Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and IBM. Calling itself the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society, the alliance intends to “conduct research, recommend best practices, and publish research under an open license in areas such as ethics, fairness and inclusivity; transparency, privacy, and interoperability; collaboration between people and AI systems; and the trustworthiness, reliability and robustness of the technology”.
The organization has said it “does not intend” to act as a lobbying organization.
The group plans to offer equal representation on the board between corporate and non-corporate members, with plans to invite “academics, non-profits and specialists in policy and ethics” into the fold. Google is contributing to the alliance through its subsidiary DeepMind, based in London, which is a pure research group that made headlines earlier this year, when one of its machines became the first to beat a human player in the ancient Chinese strategy game ‘Go.’
Conspicuously to many, two giants of the world of AI tech were missing from the announcement. Both Apple and Elon Musk’s OpenAI group were absent from the planned coalition. Apple is well known for its own integration of AI elements into their undertakings. However, the company has a reputation for taking a solo approach and going against the grain, such as in their separate opposition to the UK’s Investigatory Powers bill. While other companies such as Facebook, Google, and Microsoft banded together in opposing the bill, Apple acted on its own, finally joining forces with the others this past March.
According to Eric Horvitz of Microsoft, “We’ve been in discussions with Apple, I know they’re enthusiastic about this effort, and I’d personally hope to see them join.”
Also missing was one of the best funded AI research labs, Elon Musk’s OpenAI project, whose stated mission is to “advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole” – goals which would seem to be in harmony with the goals of the new coalition.
Co-founder and CTO of OpenAI, Greg Brockman, responded to the announcement saying “We’re happy to see the launch of the group — coordination in the industry is good for everyone. We’re looking forward to non-profits being included as first-class members in the future.”
Representatives from the groups involved all issued their own statements praising the move, and outlining plans to share research and advance technology in a way that, according to IBM’s Francesca Rossi, “will foster collaboration between people and machines to solve some of the world’s most enduring problems – in a way that is both trustworthy and beneficial.”