Five tech giants announced on Wednesday that they are launching a nonprofit to “advance public understanding” of artificial intelligence and to formulate “best practices on the challenges and opportunities within the field.”
The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society is being formed byAmazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft, each of which will have a representative on the group’s 10-member board.
The partnership will conduct research and recommend best practices relating to “ethics, fairness and inclusivity; transparency, privacy, and interoperability; collaboration between people and AI systems; and the trustworthiness, reliability and robustness of the technology,” according to the announcement. “It does not intend to lobby government or other policymaking bodies.”
“We’re in a golden age of machine learning and AI,” said Ralf Herbrich, the director of machine learning at Amazon, in a prepared statement. “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.” (Herbrich will be Amazon’s representative on the board.)
The remainder of the board will be filled with representatives from academia and the non-profit world, according to a press release, which also indicates that the group is already in discussions with the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Additional corporate participants are also expected, it noted. (Google’s representative on the board will come from its London-based AI unit DeepMind, which developed software that, this past March, defeated the world champion in the ancient Chinese game of Go.)
In the past five years, technological progress and optimism about AI has been exploding, in part due to breakthroughs in a subfield known as deep learning—or, more properly, deep neural networks. Neural networks are software constructs, originally inspired by the way the brain works, that enable machines to teach themselves how to recognize complex patterns.