In a surprising move on Tuesday, industry stalwarts IBM, Intel, Sony, and Dell joined forces with the younger Meta, several prominent universities, and a cohort of tech startups and foundations to announce the establishment of an “AI Alliance.”
This strategic collaboration is a concerted effort to disrupt the perceived dominance of established players such as OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon in artificial intelligence (AI).
The announcement comes amid discussions about the absence of traditional computing leaders in conversations at the forefront of the AI landscape.
Dario Gil, a senior vice president at IBM and head of the company’s research lab, expressed concern about the narrow focus on a handful of institutions in the past year’s discourse on AI. Gil emphasized, “The reality is that this field is much larger than that.”
When pressed about the specific institutions he was alluding to, Gil chose not to name them directly, stating, “You know who.”
The AI Alliance aligns with a longstanding debate within the developer community regarding the merits of “open” versus “closed” development of AI. Despite its name, OpenAI, backed primarily by Microsoft, has kept its AI algorithms under tight control, allowing access only with permission.
Similarly, other leading AI developers like Google and Amazon have yet to fully open-sourced their models, citing competition and safety concerns.
This proprietary approach has sparked debates within the research community and among competing businesses. The formation of the AI Alliance signals a departure from this closed model, with over 50 participants rallying around shared goals.
These objectives include establishing common frameworks for evaluating AI algorithm strength, allocating capital to AI research funds, and collaborating on open-source models.
The diverse group comprises corporate giants, chip manufacturers such as AMD and Cerebras, AI startups like Hugging Face and Stability AI, and esteemed universities like Yale, Cornell, and Dartmouth.
Darío Gil highlighted examples of the alliance’s commitment to openness, citing IBM’s collaboration with NASA on an open-sourced AI model trained on geospatial data. This model is designed to track deforestation and predict crop yields.
Gil also revealed IBM’s substantial financial commitment of approximately $100 million to support AI research projects at universities over the next five years. Additionally, IBM collaborated with Meta to develop an open-source toolkit for AI development.
Regarding governance, Gil mentioned that the alliance is still finalizing details, focusing initially on defining objectives and building a coalition.
The following steps involve establishing “technical working groups” for the diverse participants and designing a governance structure, potentially leading to the creation of an external nonprofit.