Tom Gruber, Head of Advanced Development for Siri.
Tom Gruber, Head of Advanced Development for Siri. Image: Luwaran.

The Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society formally announced on Friday that Apple would be joining them as a founding member. The group also comprises executives from companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, Google, and IBM.

The Cupertino company’s decision to join the team effort has baffled some news outlets, as Apple tends to be very secretive about its AI-related endeavors.

The company has even had some troubles hiring people for this department because of internal disclosure restrictions.

The AI Partnership aims to “discuss and provide guidance on emerging issues related to the impact of AI on society,” and also “support best practices in the research, development, and use of AI technology within specific domains.”

Apple joins a group comprised of its closest AI rivals

While Apple might be responsible for bringing the first quality AI smartphone assistant project to fruition, Siri is currently falling behind in technological development, according to some sources.

“I think Apple had a realization that to do the best AI research and to have access to the top minds in the field is the expectation of engaging openly with academic research communities,” said Eric Horvitz, from Microsoft Research. He also added that the initiative has always treated Apple as a founding member.

The Cupertino company might be interested in getting on board with its closest rivals to advance its AI projects a little more. In fact, the company’s chosen representative will be Tom Gruber, Head of Advanced Development for Siri.

Apple’s secrecy has been there from the beginning

The tech giant published its first research paper on the subject of AI last December. However, this development slipped by almost unnoticed and failed to make an impact on the media.

However, this is not a surprise for Apple experts. The company’s secretive and mysterious practices are already a part of the company’s history. The movie Steve Jobs (2015), starring Michael Fassbender, offers a suitable portrayal of this ongoing policy.

A Bloomberg report from October of last year also helped shed some light on this matter. The piece stated that new hires for Apple’s AI department are not allowed to advertise their positions on Twitter, LinkedIn, or similar sites.

Some of them, the article adds, have to lock their office doors whenever they leave, according to corporate policy. These are just two examples of Apple’s aggressive stance on nondisclosure and business privacy.

Tom Gruber released a statement shortly after the announcement, saying that Apple looks forward to “collaborating with the group to help drive discussion on how to advance AI while protecting the privacy and security of consumers.”

A little more on the AI Partnership

The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society issued its first formal announcement in September of last year. So far, it includes tech executives from all the companies mentioned above, including OpenAI’s Dario Amodei.

Aside from Apple’s introduction, the Partnership will hold the first meeting of its Board of Trustees this Friday, February 3rd, in San Francisco.

Source: Partnership on AI