AI: Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook and IBM partner to consider policy and ethics

Microsoft announced today (29 September) that it has formed the Microsoft AI and Research Group led by tech visionary Harry Shum, a day after Amazon, DeepMind/Google, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft announced that they have created a non-profit partnership to formulate best practices in response to the challenges and opportunities around the growing field.
The Partnership on AI will see the world’s largest technology companies – currently not including Apple – invite academics and specialists in policy and ethics to join the board of the organisation, with equal representation of corporate and non-corporate members.
Together, the organisation’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.
Microsoft’s AI and Research Group, meanwhile, will bring together Microsoft’s research organization with more than 5,000 computer scientists and engineers focused on the company’s AI product efforts. It can be expected to accelerate the delivery of new AI solutions across agents, apps, services and infrastructure.
The move comes as the legal sector increasingly sees the benefit of applying machine learning tools to areas such as speeding up the due diligence process and evaluating litigation performance and results, although the sector significantly lags the consumer and retail sector. One innovation officer said: “Now is the time that legal regulators need to make their policy on AI clear, before the genie really escapes from the bottle.”