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Tech Giants Unite To Defend AI

Tech companies will try to change public attitude and dispel myths about AI

29Sep

How do you make Artificial Intelligence less intimidating and easier to understand for the public? Create an independent body to address and explain the essence of achievements, challenges, and developments in the field using five of the leading voices in tech - Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google. The importance of having this body is paramount, as - until now - ethical debates have created endless frustration among those who have a limited knowledge of AI, and the five tech giants have joined forces to share their knowledge of AI in the form of a non-profit organization - the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society (PAI).

AI indeed deserves special attention as it's at the at the core of almost all innovative developments. Equipping a machine with intellectual capabilities has proven to be much more effective than only building bulky machines. By using neural networks in deep learning, machines can now learn just like humans, meaning the opportunities are limitless with the right programming. Tech companies hold the keys to AI secrets, but innovation in the sector has so far been hampered by fears around the ethical issues. By providing more transparency on the subject, AI is likely to elicit a more positive attitude. 'The positive impact of AI will depend not only on the quality of our algorithms, but on the level of public engagement, on transparency, and ethical discussion that takes place around it,' said Mustafa Suleyman, the Co- Chairman of the PAI and the Co- Founder of Google DeepMind.

Currently, the biggest fears in society associated with AI revolve around the destruction of jobs and concerns that those in control of AI would have monopolies, generating enormous wealth for themselves and leaving nothing for everyone else. To try and dispel this impression, the PAI will include board members from both corporate and non-corporate environments to create a balance. The organization will be conducting research, figuring out the best practices, and publishing an open research on important to the public matters - ethics and fairness in technology.

In their official statements, there was no mention of the organization lobbying the interests of the government, so it is likely to act as a self-regulating body. Google's contribution to organizing a union was significant, as the participation was a promise of the company to DeepMind in 2014 when AI startup was acquired. The initiative is still in the early stages, but members feel positive about it - for once, there is no place for the rivalry.

Building tech coalitions seems to be extremely popular today. Collaboration is always better than acting alone in the uncharted territory of disruptive technology. However, this may also be a sign that companies feel vulnerable and unappreciated in their AI projects, with the governments expressing a certain interest but still paying not enough attention. As much as people like new technology that makes their lives more comfortable, they act cold when they don't fully understand the idea, what's behind it, and what the consequences are. One good example is Elon Musk, who, despite having an army of followers, constantly faces scrutiny over his bold ideas - from Tesla cars to colonization of Mars. Even though such unions don't have a real regulatory power, they are highly likely to change the public attitude to sophisticated technology. As for now, we have the following guardians of disruptive new technologies:

- The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society - Google, Amazon, IBM, Facebook, Microsoft

- The Self- Driving Coalition for Safer Streets - Ford, Google, Lyft, Uber, Volvo

- The Coalition For Drone Makers - DJI, 3D Robotics, Parrot, GoPro

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