Tech heavyweights join forces for AI partnership

In a bid to calm fears and create wider understanding of how AI technology can be used for the public good, IBM, Microsoft, Google (Deep Mind), Facebook and Amazon have announced a joint initiative that will create a non-profit organisation tasked with creating shared industry standards and best practices. 

Academics, non-profits, and specialists in policy and ethics will be invited to join the Board of the organisation, named the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society or Partnership on AI.

“Over the past five years, we’ve seen tremendous advances in the deployment of AI and cognitive computing technologies, ranging from useful consumer apps to transforming some of the world’s most complex industries, including healthcare, financial services, commerce and the Internet of Things. This partnership will provide consumer and industrial users of cognitive systems a vital voice in the advancement of the defining technology of this century –one that will foster collaboration between people and machines to solve some of the world’s most enduring problems –in a way that is both trustworthy and beneficial.” Francesca Rossi, AI Ethics Researcher, IBM Research.


The objective of the Partnership on AI is to address opportunities and challenges with AI technologies to benefit people and society. Together, the organisation’s members will conduct research, recommend best practices, 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. It does not intend to lobby government or other policymaking bodies.

Tech heavyweights join forces for AI partnership TechNative
Leading tech industry researchers from Amazon, DeepMind/Google, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft convened to announce a partnership on artificial intelligence (AI) best practices, at IBM’s Watson headquarters in New York City, Weds., September 28, 2016. Founding members of the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence from left: Eric Horvitz, Microsoft; Francesca Rossi, IBM; Yann LeCun, Facebook and Mustafa Suleyman, Google/DeepMind. Not pictured is Ralf Herbrich, Amazon. (Jon Simon/Feature Photo Service for IBM)

“The possibilities for positively impacting a global society with advances in AI are numerous, ranging from connectivity, healthcare and transportation.” said Yann LeCun, Director of Facebook AI Research. “As researchers in industry, we take very seriously the trust people have in us to ensure advances are made with the utmost consideration for human values. By openly collaborating with our peers and sharing findings, we aim to push new boundaries every day, not only within Facebook, but across the entire research community. To do so in partnership with these companies who share our vision will help propel the entire field forward in a thoughtful responsible way.”

There will be equal representation of corporate and non-corporate members on the board of this new organisation. The Partnership is in discussions with professional and scientific organisations, such as the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), as well as non-profit research groups including the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and anticipates announcements regarding additional participants in the near future.

AI technologies hold tremendous potential to improve many aspects of life, ranging from healthcare, education, and manufacturing to home automation and transportation. Through rigorous research, the development of best practices, and an open and transparent dialogue, the founding members of the Partnership on AI hope to maximise this potential and ensure it benefits as many people as possible.

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