There’s a new corporate partnership in the AI niche.

Formed by five Silicon Valley giants, Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft, “Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society” – not the best choice of name, truth be told – declares to “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.”

The organization hopes to work with “academics, non-profits, and specialists in policy and ethics.”

What does this mean, though? What can we expect?

The optimistic answer is that the five corporation giants are aware of the problems – problems and concerns – surrounding the possible development of the AI in the future. The partnership is, at least as far as the statement goes, aimed at “maximizing societal benefits and tackling ethical problems.” The problems are there, of course – both technological and philosophical, both actual and foreseen – but the fact that these five companies are to form a partnership, rather than doing it on their own, can be interpreted as a good sign, in particular since some of the research results – not the most important ones, but of great concern nonetheless – are to be published under an open license.

However, the pessimistic answer is that it’s still not impossible that in the end the partnership will turn out to be just another corporate lobbying organization – or that the cooperation will have no effect at all. Furthermore, while the absence of Apple in the group is not a surprise at all, the absence of Elon Musk’s OpenAI is curious, if not a little bit disturbing. Certainly something to consider.

All in all, it’s good to welcome another organization dedicated to tackling the AI-related problems. I’d hold off on the excitement, though. The names are big, that’s a fact – but let’s remember that it’s not the first to undertake such an endeavor. Time will show whether or not this one will be the successful one.



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