Posted on September 29, 2016 by staff

Tech giants announce Partnership on Artificial Intelligence


The world’s biggest tech firms have announced a partnership to explore the potential for artificial intelligence – but Apple is not among them.

Amazon, Google DeepMind, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft have formed the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, which also aims to ensure that AI technology is not abused.

Half of the organisation, which will work on issues such as privacy, safety and the collaboration between people and AI, will be made up of non-corporate experts.

“AI has tremendous potential to improve many aspects of life, ranging from healthcare, education and manufacturing to home automation and transport,” the new group said in a statement.

“The founding members hope to maximise this potential and ensure it benefits as many people as possible.”

It said it has no plans to “lobby government or other policy-making bodies”.

The mission statement on its website reads: “We believe that artificial intelligence technologies hold great promise for raising the quality of people’s lives and can be leveraged to help humanity address important global challenges such as climate change, food, inequality, health, and education.”

However iPhone maker Apple is not yet involved.

Partnership co-chair Eric Horvitz of Microsoft 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.”

The world around us is starting to benefit from AI, for example smartphone voice recognition and data analysis.British start-up DeepMind, bought by Google in 2014, grabbed the headlines earlier this year when its AlphaGo computer program beat grandmaster Lee Sedol 4-1 at the ancient Chinese strategy board game Go.

There have been warnings that AI could wipe out entire industries, or at least the workforce behind them.

Even greater concerns have also been raised, with Tesla Motors founder and CEO Elon Musk tweeting in 2014 that the technology is “potentially more dangerous than nukes”.

Last year Musk set up not-for-profit group OpenAI to “advance digital intelligence in the way that is most likely to benefit humanity as a whole”. The group, which has funding of $1bn (£777m), is not part of the partnership despite apparently aligned aims.

OpenAI co-founder and CTO Greg Brockman said: “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.”

“We’re in the process of inviting many, many different research labs and groups,” said Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of Deep Mind.

“We encourage there to be a diverse range of effort in AI. We’re going to be really opening this up as widely as possible to different efforts.”

Ralf Herbrich, director of machine learning science and core machine learning at Amazon, said: “We’re in a golden age of machine learning and AI.

“This partnership will ensure we’re including the best and the brightest in this space in the conversation to improve customer trust and benefit society.”

Facebook’s director of AI research, Yann LeCun, said: “By openly collaborating with our peers and sharing findings, we aim to push new boundaries every day, not only within Facebook, but across the entire research community.”

IBM’s Francesca Rossi added: “This partnership will provide consumer and industrial users of cognitive systems a vital voice in the advancement of the defining technology of this century – one that 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.”