China: Search engine Baidu joins global artificial intelligence ethics body

Author: Alex Hern, Guardian (UK), Published on: 16 October 2018

…The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society…was formed in 2016 by Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM and Microsoft to act as an umbrella organisation for the five companies to conduct research, recommend best practices and publish briefings on areas including ethics, privacy and trustworthiness of AI. In the two years since it was founded, it has grown rapidly, with more than 70 members…But until now, it has had no representation from mainland China

The president of Baidu, Ya-Qin Zhang, said in a statement: “As AI technology keeps advancing and the application of AI expands, we recognise 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.”

Chinese researchers have been stereotyped in the west as being more willing to play fast and loose with the ethics of potential AI advances, making the presence of a Chinese firm in the partnership an important step towards achieving global agreement about how best to use the technology – and what limits to place on it.

 “I think it’s important to acknowledge that there are substantial cultural and policy differences between the west and the east,” said the partnership’s executive director, Terah Lyons…“I think Baidu is grappling internally with how they want to confront a lot of the challenges of dealing with machine intelligence,” Lyons added. “I feel like involvement in the productive conversations that PAI is facilitating will help.”…

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Related companies: Alphabet Amazon.com Baidu Facebook Google (part of Alphabet) IBM Microsoft