Apple Moves Away from Secrecy, Joins AI Group

The Partnership on AI, a group from which Apple was a notable omission when it was announced in September, has now made room for the phone maker. It reflects a shift in priorities for Apple, which has found it hard to keep up with artificial intelligence innovations while maintaining its secretive nature.

Famously, Apple has long had a tendency toward secrecy. But even it couldn’t ignore the benefits of joining the Partnership on AI.

The organization, announced in September, was formed with the goal of creating governance standards for the use of artificial intelligence and had the initial backing of Amazon, DeepMind, Google, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft.

Apple, who has a horse in the race in the form of its Siri virtual assistant, was a notable omission from the list. But the company is now joining the partnership as a founding member.

The partnership says Apple had been active with the group since before its launch, though its role had not been officially announced until this week.

“Diversity of thought across the organization is crucial to ensure that we effectively explore and address the influences of AI on people and society, provide guidance on AI best practices, and seek to advance the public’s understanding of AI,” the group wrote in a statement. “We are committed to having balanced representation at the leadership, executive, and operations levels.”

Apple has struggled at times to balance its desire to keep things under wraps with the AI field’s tendency to share its research. In 2015, Bloomberg reported that Apple’s tendency to shy away from the academic information-sharing common within the industry has visibly hurt efforts such as Apple Maps and cost its first-mover Siri platform its head start.

Bloomberg says a recent hire on the part of the iPhone maker, Carnegie Mellon Professor Russ Salakhutdinov, seems to have helped matters, with the company publishing its first paper on artificial intelligence in December.

And Apple’s addition to the list isn’t the only gap covered by the announcement: The Elon Musk-backed OpenAI, which was also missing from the founding list at the time of the organization’s launch, now has a seat on the partnership’s board. The firm’s Dario Amodei was one of six additions to the board this week.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!