Five of the biggest tech companies are teaming up to establish clear rules and regulations to guide the development of artificial intelligence.
Last month, five digital behemoths — Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and IBM — officially announced they are joining forces to develop a set of standards and best practices for artificial intelligence Called the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society (yes, that’s its real name), the group is the first of its kind, pledging to promote the public’s understanding of AI, while implementing a code of ethics for researchers to follow, AdWeek reports.
The partnership comes at an explosive time for AI, both in terms of its advancement and related controversy, and the organization’s leaders hope that establishing a concrete set of principles will both dispel any public concerns over artificial intelligence and facilitate its development in the private sector.
The AI Standards
While in some instances individual companies have already developed their own set of best practices, there has never been formal, industry-wide coordination, as NPR reports. The Partnership on AI is changing that. In addition to the big five tech companies, the non-profit will also work with academic, nonprofit, and professional organizations. According to a press release, these include the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2).
“We plan to discuss, we plan to publish, we plan to also potentially sponsor some research projects that dive into specific issues,” IBM’s VP of Cognitive Computing Guruduth Banavar tells NPR. “But foremost, this is a platform for open discussion across industry.”
The founding tech companies will provide funding and other research resources to the partnership, and “there will be equal representation of corporate and noncorporate members on the board of this new organization.”
Public Concerns with Artificial Intelligence
The founding of the organization coincides with a particularly contentious moment for artificial intelligence. According to a summer survey conducted by Time Etc, 26% of consumers said they wouldn’t trust a robot or other AI with either personal or professional tasks.
Some very public gaffes and tragedies have not helped the public’s image of AI. Thanks to some help from the always-helpful trolls of the internet, it didn’t take long for Microsoft’s Twitter chat bot to devolve into an offensive tirade — the failure of a Tesla vehicle’s autopilot resulted in the fatal crash of its driver. Add on the fear of human obsolescence and the apocalyptic visions we read in novels and see in movie theaters, and it’s not hard to understand why more than a quarter of the population doesn’t trust AI.
The partnership’s goal is not to address some far off, end-of-the-world scenario, however; its objectives are much more nearsighted. Its leaders, like IBM’s Banavar, hope to introduce elements like an educational forum that provides open resources to the public, which could do plenty to alleviate fears that are rooted in misconceptions (the same Time Etc survey found that 54% of consumers don’t believe they use AI, despite the pervasiveness of Siri and other commonly used technologies). The organization will publish a specific plan in the near future, before a kick-off event to mark the start of the collaboration.
Addressing public concern is critical, given the promise artificial intelligence holds across industries and sectors. From smartphones assistants to digital marketing tools, AI is already improving our everyday lives, both inside the office and out. Will the Partnership on AI help us all see it that way?