Let's make one thing clear: one year isn't going to fix decades of gender discrimination in computer science and all the problems associated with it. Recent diversity reports show that women still make up only 20 percent of engineers at Google and Facebook, and an even lower proportion at Uber. But after the parade of awful news about the treatment of female engineers in 2017--sexual harassment in Silicon Valley and a Google engineer sending out a memo to his coworkers arguing that women are biologically less adept at programming, just to name a couple--there is actually reason to believe that things are looking up for 2018, especially when it comes to AI. At first glance, AI would seem among least likely areas of programming to be friendly to women. Writing in Fast Company recently, Hanna Wallach, an AI researcher and cofounder of the Women in Machine Learning Conference, said that only 13.5 percent of those working in machine learning are female.
Let's make one thing clear: one year isn't going to fix decades of gender discrimination in computer science and all the problems associated with it. Recent diversity reports show that women still make up only 20 percent of engineers at Google and Facebook, and an even lower proportion at Uber. But after the parade of awful news about the treatment of female engineers in 2017--sexual harassment in Silicon Valley and a Google engineer sending out a memo to his coworkers arguing that women are biologically less adept at programming, just to name a couple--there is actually reason to believe that things are looking up for 2018, especially when it comes to AI.
Earlier this month, the 97-year-old nonprofit advocacy organization launched a partnership with AI Now, a New York-based research initiative that studies the social consequences of artificial intelligence. "We are increasingly aware that AI-related issues impact virtually every civil rights and civil liberties issue that the ACLU works on," Rachel Goodman, a staff attorney in the ACLU's Racial Justice program, tells Co.Design. AI is silently reshaping our entire society: our day-to-day work, the products we purchase, the news we read, how we vote, and how governments govern, for example. But as anyone who's searched endlessly through Netflix without finding anything to watch can attest, AI isn't perfect. But while it's easy to pause a movie when Netflix's algorithm misjudges your tastes, the stakes are much higher when it comes to the algorithms that are used to decide more serious issues, like prison sentences, credit scores, or housing.
The Future of Humanity Institute (FHI) will be joining the Partnership on AI, a non-profit organisation founded by Amazon, Apple, Google/DeepMind, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft, with the goal of formulating best practices for socially beneficial AI development. We will be joining the Partnership alongside technology firms like Sony as well as third sector groups like Human Rights Watch, UNICEF, and our partners in Cambridge, the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. The Partnership on AI is organised around a set of thematic pillars, including Fair, transparent, and accountable AI, and AI and social good; FHI is will focus its work on the first of these pillars: Safety-critical AI. Where AI tools are used to supplement or replace human decision-making, we must be sure that they are safe, trustworthy, and aligned with the ethics and preferences of people who are influenced by their actions. Professor Nick Bostrom, director of FHI, said in response to the news, "We're delighted to be joining the Partnership on AI, and to be expanding our industry and nonprofit collaborations on AI safety."
We are at an inflection point in the evolution of artificial intelligence. For decades, AI has been incubating in research labs and at the same time capturing popular imagination with science fiction portrayals of AI. The reality is that thanks to a convergence of increasing compute power, big data and algorithmic advances, AI is becoming mainstream and finding practical applications in nearly every facet of our personal lives. Facebook identifies which friends to tag in photos, algorithms are improving medical diagnosis and saving lives, and GPS-based apps are predicting traffic patterns to optimize driving routes. The AI revolution is also taking hold in our business lives.
Artificial intelligence is a booming business in 2017, but one that also comes with significant baggage in the form of public misunderstanding, potential job losses, and fear. Last fall, A.I. competitors Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM, and Google banded together to form the Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society, an industry-led attempt to get ahead of the many social, ethical, and economic issues presented by the advent of technology with increasingly human-like capabilities. Apple joined the group as another founding member earlier this year. On Tuesday, the Partnership on AI (PAI) announced nearly two dozen new members, including more of the tech industry's biggest names--Intel, eBay, Salesforce, and SAP among them--and many of the world's foremost A.I. research institutions, such as the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. Also joining are nonprofits focused on digital privacy, human rights, and freedom.
We look forward to collaborating with other industry-leading Partnership on AI members to address the challenges and opportunities within the AI field including companies, nonprofits and institutions and with founding members Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google / DeepMind, IBM and Microsoft; existing Partners AAAI, ACLU, OpenAI; and new Partners: AI Forum of New Zealand (AIFNZ), Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence (AI2), Centre for Democracy & Tech (CDT), Centre for Internet and Society, India (CIS), Cogitai, Data & Society Research Institute (D&S), Digital Asia Hub, eBay, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), Future of Humanity Institute (FHI), Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Intel, Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI), McKinsey & Company, SAP, Salesforce, Sony, UNICEF, Upturn, XPRIZE Foundation and Zalando.
Intel, Salesforce, eBay, Sony, SAP, McKinsey & Company, Zalando and Cogitai are joining the Partnership on AI, a collection of companies and non-profits that have committed to sharing best practices and communicating openly about the benefits and risks of artificial intelligence research. The new members will be working alongside existing partners that include Facebook, Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft and Apple. Collectively, the partners will be hosting a series of AI Grand Challenges to incentivize researchers to contribute to key roadblocks in the field and to address some of the social and societal ramifications of artificial intelligence research. The group is also announcing a best paper award for the greatest contribution to "AI, People, and Society," to aid in addressing a similar goal. In addition to the paper awards and challenges, the Partnership on AI will also be establishing topic and sector-specific work groups to make good on the group's promise to generate a list of best practices for researchers.
After conspicuously being absent when the group came together in September 2016, Apple has joined the Partnership on AI. Tim Cook's firm has become a founding member of the organisation, which includes Google/DeepMind, Microsoft, IBM, Facebook and Amazon. Apple's Tom Gruber, the chief technology officer of AI personal assistant Siri, has joined the group of trustees running the non-profit partnership. "We believe it's beneficial to Apple, our customers, and the industry to play an active role in its development and look forward to collaborating with the group to help drive discussion on how to advance AI while protecting the privacy and security of consumers," Gruber said in a statement . Although Apple didn't join the partnership from the beginning it is said discussions involving its membership have been ongoing.