Apple reportedly set to join the Partnership on AI

Apple is reportedly set to join the Partnership on AI, an artificial intelligence research group that includes Amazon, Alphabet’s Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Apple’s admission into the group could be announced as soon as this week, reports Bloomberg, quoting unnamed “people familiar with the situation.”

Partnership on AI (the full name is Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society) is a technology industry consortium focused on establishing best practices for artificial intelligence systems and to educate the public about AI. Its goal is to “conduct research, recommend best practices, and publish research under an open license in areas such as ethics, fairness and inclusivity; transparency, privacy, and interoperability; collaboration between people and AI systems; and the trustworthiness, reliability and robustness of the technology.”

In October 2016 Apple CEO Tim Cook told the Nikkei Asian Review that the company's upcoming research and development base in Yokohama, Japan will develop artificial intelligence (AI) and other technologies. Cook described it as a center for "deep engineering." He said it will be "very different" from the R&D base Apple plans to build in China.

"I cannot tell you the specifics," he told the Nikkei Asian Review. "The specific work is very different." 

Cook said Apple intends to capitalize on AI in various ways, in cooperation with Japanese companies. AI is "horizontal in nature, running across all products" and is used "in ways that most people don't even think about.”

"We want the AI to increase your battery life" and recommend music to Apple Music subscribers, he continued. As another example, he said AI could "help you remember where you parked your car.”

In addition to Siri, its “personal assistant,” Apple has been investing heavily into companies that could bolster its AI efforts. In August 2016, the Cupertino, California-based company bought Turi, a "machine learning platform for developers and data scientists.” 

In October 2015, the company bought Perceptio, a startup developing technology to let companies run advanced artificial intelligence (AI) systems on smartphones without needing to share as much user data. 

Also in 2015, Apple acquired VocalIQ, a UK startup that’s developed a natural language application programming interface [API] that allows humans and machines to have a much more natural conversation. And in January 2016, our favorite tech company bought Emollient, a a startup that uses artificial-intelligence technology to read people’s emotions by analyzing facial expressions.