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Tech Giants Double Down on AI Ethics

Friday, 30 Sep 2016

IA

Can Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft keep AI for good?

Five of the world’s biggest tech companies – Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft – have created an open research initiative to allay people’s fears of artificial intelligence (AI).

The Partnership on AI is a non-profit organisation that will rely on the contribution of staff and finances from its founding members.

It will conduct and publish research under an open license “in areas such as ethics, fairness and inclusivity; transparency, privacy, and interoperability; collaboration between people and AI systems; and the trustworthiness, reliability and robustness of the technology.”

The organisation will also recommend best practices for those building AI systems, though it made it clear that it “does not intend to lobby government or other policymaking bodies.”

Google’s participation is through its acquired DeepMind business, and its co-founder and head of applied AI, Mustafa Suleyman, said the partnership was about “breaking down barriers between AI teams across leading companies to address some of the really difficult questions that are arising within the field.”

“We also want to make it easier for those in other fields to understand, assess and engage with our scientific breakthroughs and consider the broader social and ethical impacts of our applications,” Suleyman said.

“We believe that AI has the potential for transformative, positive impact in the world. Fulfilling this potential is not only dependent on the quality of the algorithms being engineered and the data they use, but on the level of public engagement, transparency, and ethical discussion that takes place around them.

“It’s precisely because AI has the potential to have such a major positive impact on the world that we believe it’s critical that we build new models of open collaboration and accountability around it.”

The ethical and social implications of growing development and funding for AI projects has been a hot topic of late, with the IEEE recently holding an event in The Hague to outline concerns and find ways to solve them in the design process for the technology.

Francesca Rossi, an AI ethics researcher within IBM Research and founding member of the partnership, believed it would give more people a voice on the way AI progresses.

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