Apple collaborates with rivals to advance AI research

Apple joins the Partnership on AI, which also includes Google, IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon.

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Agam Shah

Apple has joined rivals as it takes a step ahead to advance research and development of artificial intelligence technologies.

After months of collaborating, Apple is joining the Partnership on AI, with other founding members including Google, IBM, Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon.

The Partnership of AI was founded in September last year to also steer debate on best practices on AI. The group believes AI could help in the areas of health care, transportation, and automation in factories.

Apple's most visible AI technology is Siri, a voice assistant that can answer questions. But a larger AI strategy is still a subject of speculation. Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, Amazon, and Google have well established AI strategies.

Speech and recognition are well-known use cases for AI. Apple will likely implement AI in its mysterious autonomous car project so self-driving vehicles can navigate and cruise the roads safely without a human at the wheel.

Beyond the Alexa voice assistant, Amazon uses AI to provide buying recommendations. Google this week said it was providing TensorFlow tools so users can build a wide variety of AI capabilities into Raspberry Pi 3 and IBM's high-powered cognitive computers.

The group believes AI holds tremendous promise and will lead to a big societal impact. AI's impact needs to be discussed, and companies need to establish ground rules on how the technology is developed and deployed, according to the group.

The Partnership on AI is establishing a diverse board to bring in a variety of opinions. The board includes personnel from the top companies and members from universities and organizations like American Civil Liberties Union, the MacArthur Foundation, and Peterson Institute for International Economics.

There is a lot of cooperation among organizations pursuing AI research. Tesla co-founder Elon Musk has poured $1 billion into OpenAI, which is also a member of the Partnership on AI.

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