If you watch enough science fiction, you know exactly what's feared when an AI conglomerate takes over. For decades, dramas have been created, cultivating fears that artificial intelligence (AI) will one day take over and enslave humans.
Thankfully a few big companies are doing something to make sure that it will not happen, driving AI initiatives in a positive way. Five of the biggest technology companies, Microsoft, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Facebook, and IBM, have created a new group called Partnership on AI. The group will be focused on researching how AI can be best applied to solve pressing issues in the world, such as climate change, scarcity of food, inequality, poor health, and education. In other words, their goal is to keep AI initiatives on track, while not becoming a weaponized tool of mass destruction, all while building a structure that opens the communication across companies that would make it easier to develop AI.
The five founding companies will be providing the initial funds needed for operations and research and it is expected to attract various entities such as user activists, nonprofits, ethicists, and other stakeholders.
One initiative will be to break down barriers in order for AI to advance, with the core goal of not creating robot overlords, but to share best practices, find the best way to maximize societal benefits of AI, tackle ethical concerns regarding AI, and make it easier for people from different fields engage with the latest developments in AI.
Open AI standards
According to TechCrunch, the consortium wants to lead by example, using a standard open license to publish research on topics, including ethics, inclusivity and privacy, instead of just telling the world how great AI is.
“The power of AI is in the enterprise sector,” said Francesca Rossi, an AI ethics researcher at IBM Research. “For society at-large to get the benefits of AI, we first have to trust it.”
Surprisingly, other big tech companies such as Apple, Tesla, Twitter, and Baidu are missing from the new group. Fear not, however, because apparently some sources have shared that Apple is said to be interested.
“We’ve been in discussions with Apple, I know they’re enthusiastic about this effort, and I’d personally hope to see them join,” Microsoft’s Eric Horvitz, one of the partnership’s two interim co-chairs, said. Apple has yet to confirm or deny Horvitz’s claims.
The plan is bold, and thought leadership is a critical part of developing a structure for development for this emerging technology. Is it life or death? Does their success mean a robot/AI revolt is held at bay? AI is a technological gift that needs curation, careful harnessing, and a strong ecosystem of leaders to help drive the technology to the best causes possible. It's just what the doctor ordered, and I might as well say the following: I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords - or not.
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