Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft Team Up to Make Artificial Intelligence Less Scary

Digital giants to develop standards and best practices

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The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society was unveiled today by Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft. Indeed, that's quite a name and quite a list of companies.

Their chief mission is to promote public understanding of AI while developing standards and best practices for researchers to abide by.

press release late on Wednesday stated: "The objective of the partnership on AI is to address opportunities and challenges with AI technologies to benefit people and society. Together, the organization'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."

The five-headed organization was reported to have been coming since the beginning of September. Now, it's here. It's an unusual moment for the five digital behemoths—including Google's DeepMind division, in this instance—to come together for a tech-based project.

An early summer study by tech player Time Etc found that 26 percent of consumers said they wouldn't trust a robot or another AI-based machine with personal or professional tasks. The same research revealed that 54 percent of people don't believe they use them, despite the ubiquity of Siri and similar features. 

So, it appears the new consortium has its work cut out for it. 

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.