The Partnership on AI - Facebook, Google and Others Team Up to Stop the Robot Apocalypse - OSMOSIS

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The AI train keeps on chugging away, like some kind of crazy self-aware robocamotive, see what I did there? Anyway, as the technology continues to advance and the pantheon of tech titans carry on putting more and more weight behind it, questions and controversies continue to arise.

Past critics of the AI phenomenon have included Elon Musk, Noam Chomsky, Hubert Dreyfus and Stephen Hawking, and they all say pretty much the same thing - it's moving too fast, growing too rapidly. The problem with this is that we don't even really know what it is yet, or what it could be capable of. People joke about the robot uprising, but total artificial intelligence may well decide that it's not a huge fan of humanity, and it would be hard to blame it. We kind of suck.

It would be naive to suggest that Facebook, Google et al weren't aware of such risks, but up to now they didn't seem particularly interested in addressing them. It's an unsettling notion that the people who have exclusive access to the lion's share of our planet's data aren't particularly fussed about phrases like 'handle with care', but this latest enterprise may suggest otherwise.

Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Amazon and IBM (yep, they're still here) have banded together to create the Partnership on AI. It's a nonprofit designed to research the development of AI and promote/enforce safe practice. Basically, all 5 companies have acknowledged the fact that they're leading the charge in AI development, and agreed to communicate actively about where they're all at, and make sure none of them are secretly building a killbot army.

Apple are mysteriously absent from the group, but since they've recently shifted focus away from AI development (or just fallen behind), perhaps it's just not worth having them around at the moment. Or perhaps they're a bit of a pariah in the tech world. Probably the latter.

Apple or no Apple, this is a demonstration of responsible thinking from the tech world, which is comforting, as you would never normally expect companies like Microsoft to actively ignore warnings made by anyone as prestigious as Stephen Hawking. Whether it's just lip service, a gesture of good faith or a bigger undertaking is unclear, but anything that aims to keep 'Sky' far away from 'Net' is a worthwhile undertaking as far as I'm concerned.

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