Artificial Intelligence Coalition May Help Curb Regulation

robots 3

Robots need ethics, too. 

That’s the message sent this week as a coalition of tech giants—including Google/DeepMind, Facebook, IBM, Amazon and Microsoft—launched the non-profit Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Benefit People and Society, according to a recent statement.

The partnership said it aims to develop best practices and standards guiding the explosion of new AI technologies that collect information about their users and environment and react accordingly.  In recent years AI systems have entrenched themselves in everyday life—from virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri to automated vehicle features like Tesla’s autopilot. 

Although the group said it does not intend to lobby government, its influential players position it as a powerful voice for the industry.  Voluntary guideline and standards models have been applauded in other areas of emerging tech as a way to foster innovation without heavy-handed regulation.   The group will also be inviting other academics, non-profits and specialists to serve on its board as well to develop these standards.

The coalition said it wants the public to better understand exactly what artificial intelligence is and quell rising concerns. It plans to address issues surrounding ethics, privacy, bias and inclusiveness, interoperability, trustworthiness and the collaboration between AI systems and people, the group’s website said.

“This group foresees great societal benefits and opportunities ahead, but we also understand that as with every new technology there will be concerns and confusion associated with new applications and competencies, and we look forward to working together on these important issues,” the website said.

That will likely lead them to fielding difficult questions surfacing about AI, like whether taxi drivers will lose their jobs to robots, or if newsfeeds on our smartphones have built-in bias.