Apple collaborates with rivals to advance A.I. research

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

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Agam Shah

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

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

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

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

Speech and recognition are well-known use cases for A.I. Apple will likely implement A.I. 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 A.I. to provide buying recommendations. Google this week said it was providing TensorFlow tools so users can build a wide variety of A.I. capabilities into Raspberry Pi 3 and IBM's high-powered cognitive computers.

The group believes A.I. holds tremendous promise and will lead to a big societal impact. A.I.'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 A.I. 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 the American Civil Liberties Union, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

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

Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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