Google, Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon. Hallowed names that have already secured their places in history, thanks to products that are shaping the lives of billions of people.
And yet, their existing achievements could be dwarfed by the impact of their work on artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence is emerging as the most transformative technology since the dawn of the smartphone age. Now Google and the four other tech giants are coming together to ensure that AI is used to benefit humanity.
The five companies have established a new “Partnership on AI to benefit people and society.” The goal of the non-profit is
“To advance public understanding of artificial intelligence technologies (AI) and formulate best practices on the challenges and opportunities within the field.”
The organization will conduct research on AI and publish its findings under an open source license. It will also elaborate and recommend best practices designed to promote “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 wants to harness AI to tackle humanity’s biggest challenges, including climate change, healthcare, education, and the fight against poverty and inequality.
The founding companies are already heavily invested in AI – Google already calls itself a “machine learning company” and it uses AI to improve products ranging from Photos, to Translate, and Assistant. Microsoft has Cortana and a smattering of other AI projects. Amazon has Alexa. IBM has Watson, which among others, is used to fight cancer and other maladies. Facebook uses AI to tweak its Newsfeed and many other aspects of its products.
Notably absent from the “club” is Apple. With the exception of Siri, the iPhone maker doesn’t have major public projects involving artificial intelligence – that said, Apple is keen to clarify that it’s very much interested in AI, and Microsoft’s Eric Horvitz, one of the co-chairs of the Partnership for AI said that he hopes that Apple would join the initiative.