Apple Joining Google, Amazon, Facebook on Artificial Intelligence
By Jef Cozza / CIO Today. Updated January 26, 2017.
Tech giant Apple is reportedly planning to join the Partnership on AI, an industry group aimed at studying and formulating best practices for artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
Apple would be joining other technology companies in the group, including Amazon, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Although an announcement is expected as soon as this week, neither Apple nor the partnership has issued any official comment on the move.
Forced To Play Nice
In some ways, joining the consortium would be a logical step for the company. Apple has become a major player in AI technology in recent years with the development of Siri, its natural language personal assistant.
On the other hand, Apple is famous for the secrecy it maintains surrounding its major initiatives, including AI. Until recently, Apple researchers working on AI were even discouraged from publishing their findings. Joining the partnership would represent something of a change in strategy for a company that has long paved its own path with regard to industry standards and technologies.
But while Apple has been an early mover in artificial intelligence, it may be starting to feel pressure from competitors as more tech companies have jumped into the pool. Microsoft now has its own Cortana personal assistant, while Amazon has launched the Alexa platform.
With so many of its competitors working together in the consortium, Apple has been on the outside looking in. That might have served the company in the past when it was willing to develop its own standards with little concern for interoperability with other technologies.
But with companies, such as IBM and Facebook, sharing massive data sets to accelerate the development of their own AI platforms, Apple may now feel it has little choice but to play nice with those organizations.
Research into Ethics and Best Practices
According to the Partnership for AI's Web site, the group is focused on advancing the public's understanding of AI, as well as serving as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society.
Founded a year ago, the partnership also seeks to support research and recommend best practices in areas including ethics, fairness and inclusivity; transparency and interoperability; privacy; collaboration between people and AI systems; and the trustworthiness, reliability, and robustness of the technology.
"We believe that artificial intelligence technologies hold great promise for raising the quality of people's lives and can be leveraged to help humanity address important global challenges such as climate change, food, inequality, health, and education," according to the group.
To support that mission, the partnership plans to take a number of steps, including conducting research, organizing discussions, sharing insights, responding to questions from the public and the media and creating educational material that advance the understanding of AI technologies such as machine perception, learning and automated reasoning.