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Amazon, Google's DeepMind, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft will work together on issues such as privacy, safety and the collaboration between people and AI.
Dubbed the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, it will include external experts.
One said he hoped the group would address "legitimate concerns".
"We've seen a very fast development in AI over a very short period of time," said Prof Yoshua Bengio, from the University of Montreal.
"The field brings exciting opportunities for companies and public organisations. And yet, it raises legitimate questions about the way these developments will be conducted."
Bringing the key players together would be the "best way to ensure we all share the same values and overall objectives to serve the common good", he added.
One notable absentee from the consortium is Apple. It has been in discussions with the group and may join the partnership "soon", according to one member.
The group will have an equal share of corporate and non-corporate members and is in discussions with organisations such as the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence.
It stressed that it had no plans to "lobby government or other policy-making bodies".
"AI has tremendous potential to improve many aspects of life, ranging from healthcare, education and manufacturing to home automation and transport and the founding members... hope to maximise this potential and ensure it benefits as many people as possible," it said.
It will conduct research under an open licence in the following areas:
ethics, fairness and inclusivity
privacy and interoperability (how AI works with people)
trustworthiness, reliability and robustness
Microsoft's managing director of research hailed the partnership as a "historic collaboration on AI and its influences on people and society", while IBM's ethics researcher Francesca Rossi said it would provide "a vital voice in the advancement of the defining technology of this century".

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become the center of today’s biggest tech companies, including Google, Microsoft and Amazon, as well as social-networking giant Facebook, and even Apple. When these companies talk about AI, they’re mostly referring to developing and perfecting deep learning systems that power a number of their products and services.

Training machine learning algorithms can be tedious — requiring tons of data sets — and involves highly specialized tools. Which is why, rivals Amazon and Microsoft have recently teamed up for better research on cloud services and, to make AI available to more developers.

On Thursday, they unveiled a new open-source deep-learning interface called Gluon. Essentially a deep-learning library, Gluon is designed to bring together the two most important components of a deep-learning system: training algorithms and neural network models. With Gluon, even developers who don’t specialize in AI can build and run machine learning models for their apps and services.


Microsoft and Amazon seem to be following the example of Google, which has it’s own open-source deep-learning AI library called TensorFlow, the company’s cloud-based machine learning platform for developers. Microsoft and Amazon are building their business, like Google, on AI. The task is daunting, to say the least, which is why they’ve teamed up under Gluon; to open it to other interested partners.