Global tech giants team up to create AI partnership

Artificial intelligence research is set for a monumental boost as the world’s biggest technology companies announce a landmark collaboration

The Partnership on AI aims to set ethical boundaries for the burgeoning industry

Five of the world’s most powerful technology companies have teamed up to create a new non-profit organisation, dedicated to conducting research into artificial intelligence. The Partnership on AI brings together industry experts from Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and IBM, and intends to enhance public understanding of AI, as well as analysing privacy and ethics issues as they look to further incorporate the technology into their businesses.

Through advancing public understanding of AI and highlighting its potential benefits, the group hopes to dispel distrust of the technology

“AI technologies hold tremendous potential to improve many aspects of life, ranging from healthcare, education and manufacturing to home automation and transportation”, the partnership said in a statement.

“Through rigorous research, the development of best practices, and an open and transparent dialogue, the founding members of the Partnership on AI hope to maximise this potential and ensure it benefits as many people as possible.”

Through advancing public understanding of AI and highlighting its potential benefits, the group hopes to dispel distrust of the technology, while also seeking to firmly establish ethical practices in the sector. Initially, financial support for the project will come directly from the founding companies, but the partnership will be inviting potential shareholders, research groups, non-profit companies and user group advocates to participate in the future.

The partnership is to be co-chaired by Eric Horvitz, Microsoft Research’s Managing Director, and DeepMind co-founder Mustafa Suleyman, while the organisation’s board will consist of academics, policy and ethics specialists and non-profit groups. A concrete plan for the partnership is expected to be announced within the next few weeks, with a launch event following later in the year.

Notably absent from the project’s line-up are AI pioneers Apple and OpenAI, as well as social media giants Twitter and Baidu. Apple has made considerable progress in the sector, primarily with its voice-activated personal assistant, Siri. Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s OpenAI has successfully raised over $1bn in funding, positioning it as a potential leader in new AI research. Despite their absence from the group, both Apple and OpenAI are said to welcome the collaborative project, embracing its potential to both advance and better current AI technology.

While technology companies are driving the partnership, its ultimate goal is to expand the capabilities of AI beyond the tech world, in a way that is “beneficial to people and society”. With its sights set on education, healthcare, transportation and the media, this powerful new partnership on AI may prove monumental for the future of technology.

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