The Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society was created by Microsoft, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and IBM in 2017. It’s stated mission is to “conduct research, organize discussions, share insights, provide thought leadership, consult with relevant third parties, respond to questions from the public and media, and create educational material that advances the understanding of AI technologies including machine perception, learning, and automated reasoning.”
The Partnership conducts its work primarily through task forces whose members come from the partner organizations. They are served by a staff of over twenty employees in San Francisco headed by Terah Lyons, who was the Obama White House point person for AI.
Beyond the five founders, the Partnership now includes over 100 partner organizations from around the world, ranging from for profit businesses to a wide range of nonprofits, academic departments and institutes, think tanks and advocacy groups. Washington State-based partners are the Tech Policy Lab at UW Law School and the Allen AI Institute, both of which were admitted in the very first round of non-founding partners.
On Sept. 24, at its annual meeting in London, the Partnership announced the inclusion of eleven new partners. The most recent announcement continues to describe the diversity of the Partners as “essential for enabling us to further our mission, advance an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society, and help realize the promise of artificial intelligence.”
While diverse in many important respects, none of the newly admitted eleven new partners have a faith connection. To date, only two of more than 100 Partners have a faith connection – the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University which has functioned for more than 25 years as a focal point for technology ethics in Silicon Valley, and Optic, a more recent admittee created by the Dominican Preaching Order and based in Rome with the purpose of training speakers and participants in AI-related ethics conferences and programs.
Since March of this year, AI and Faith directors have engaged in discussions with the Partnership’s leadership to encourage the inclusion of additional faith voices as essential to the discussion and collaboration around AI ethics and human flourishing, similar to the strong role that faith perspective play in the much older discussion of bioethics. We have also developed important connections through engagement with existing Washington-based Partners, adding Founding Members who themselves have connections with the Partnership, and reaching out to Partnership board members. We’ll continue to report on developments while tracking the good work of the Partnership Task Forces.