China

Baidu is the first Chinese firm to join US-led AI supergroup

©iStock/Yongyuan Dai

Chinese search giant Baidu has become the first company from China to join a US-led AI supergroup focused on advancing industry ethics.

The group is called PAI (Partnership on AI) and has been formed amid fears about the potential impacts of artificial intelligence. Such concerns include the potential effect on jobs, discrimination, and the potential loss of life when AI us used in a military capacity.

PAI consists of more than 70 academic institutes along with civil groups and technology leaders including Google, Apple, Facebook, and Microsoft. In collaboration, the group will develop ethical guidelines.

Until Baidu joined, there has been a notable lack of Chinese partnership. As one of the leaders in AI, and the most populous country in the world, the involvement of China is vital.

Terah Lyons, Executive Director of the Partnership on AI, said:

“Admitting our first Chinese member is an important step toward building a truly global partnership.

The growth and scope of work on AI in China is extensive and any conversation about the future of AI that does not involve China is an incomplete conversation.

I look forward to seeing our members work together across borders, sectors, and disciplines to help shape the future of this critical technology, enabling the best possible outcomes for society.”

Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, has repeatedly iterated his desire for the country to lead the world in AI by 2025. Going by the pace of advancements by Chinese firms such as Huawei, it’s not hard to imagine.

Baidu is considered the ‘Google of China’ and similar to its Western counterpart is also developing things such as driverless cars and virtual assistants. The company’s decision to join PAI is a huge win for the consortium and its credibility.

Ya-Qin Zhang, President of Baidu, commented:

“As AI technology keeps advancing and the application of AI expands, we recognize the importance of joining the global discussion around the future of AI.

Ensuring AI’s safety, fairness and transparency should not be an afterthought but rather highly considered at the onset of every project or system we build.

The impact of a transformative technology like AI goes beyond borders, so we are looking forward to both sharing our own insights and learning from our international peers.”

While the militarisation of AI is somewhat inevitable, ethical safeguards can be put in place to prevent disasters. There’s almost widespread agreement that any final decision which leads to the loss of life must be authorised by a human operator to ensure accountability.

Below you can watch our video from the AI Expo in Amsterdam with Irakli Beridze, Head of the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, discussing the potential impacts of AI:

PAI has now launched three Working Groups:

AI, Labor, and the Economy

Safety-Critical AI

Fair, Transparent, and Accountable AI

In addition to these Working Groups, further detail is forthcoming on the Partnership’s work within ‘Social and Societal Influences of AI’,’“Collaborations Between People and AI Systems’, and ‘AI and Social Good’.

  Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this? Attend the co-located AI & Big Data Expo events with upcoming shows in Silicon Valley, London, and Amsterdam to learn more. Co-located with the IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo so you can explore the future of enterprise technology in one place.

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