This article was published by The Future Society in Special Projects, The AI Initiative on November 14, 2019

The AI Commons

Main insight

The AI Commons brings together diverse global voices to enable greater access to AI for solving the world’s greatest challenges.

Special ProjectsThe AI Initiative
November 14, 2019
3 min read

The AI Commons brings together diverse global voices to address the world’s greatest challenges using artificial intelligence. It is a new global omni-stakeholder non-profit initiative based in Paris and Montreal which aims to accelerate the delivery of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. The AI Commons is a new institutional ecosystem to develop and manage a pool of common resources crucial for AI, such as computing power, data, governance mechanisms and capabilities. Previous sessions were held at the Global Forum on AI for Humanity in Paris (October 2019) Global Governance of AI Forum in Dubai (World Government Summit; February 2019), at MILA in Montreal (March 2019), and at the AI for Good Global Summit in Geneva (ITU, XPRIZE and UN agencies; May 2019). The initiative is led by Yoshua Bengio, Amir Banifatemi, Stuart Russell, Francesca Rossi and includes numerous international participants including The Future Society.

The chapter ‘Democratizing AI for Humanity: A Common Goal’ in the new book Reflections on Artificial Intelligence for Humanity (2021, Springer Press) is co-authored by Nicolas Miailhe, R. Buse Çetin, Yolanda Lannquist and Cyrus Hodes with Amir Banifatemi and Alexandre Cadain after the AI Commons event at the Global Forum on AI for Humanity in Paris, France.

Amir Banifatemi, Nicolas Miailhe, Alexandre Cadain, Buse Çetin, Lisa Hadj, Konstantinos Karachalios, Yolanda Lannquist, Alpesh Shah and Cyrus Hodes co-organized the ‘AI Commons for Humanity’ workshop at Global Forum on AI for Humanity (GFAIH) in Paris on October 28th.

Organized under the auspices of the French President Emmanuel Macron, GFAIH represents a milestone in the governance of AI. Envisioned as a yearly event, this edition served  as a precursor for the launch of a Global Partnership on AI (GPAI), recently announced at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, and led by the OECD and the governments of Canada and France. During three days, GFAIH gathered a multidisciplinary group of AI scholars, experts and practitioners  as well as innovators, economic actors, policy makers and civil society representatives.

Developing AI systems  for the benefit of humanity calls for democratizing access to AI resources including data, computing power, algorithms, talent, and domain expertise. This implies structuring and integrating AI knowledge into actionable directories and ultimately repositories. This aims to empower communities of scientists, entrepreneurs, citizens and governments around the world to build upon, and harness the power of AI to help deliver on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The “AI Commons” (AIC) is being developed as a community and platform to match problem owners with problems solvers around a common collaborative framework and actionable AI sandbox.

Incorporated as a non-profit in France and built around communities of intent, shared resources, and synergies for impact, AI Commons ambitions to build a “Wikipedia” for AI, with high quality actionable knowledge accessible to all. At The Future Society, we believe this work can play an instrumental role in the success of the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI). As a result we are taking a leadership role to help incubate and launch the AI Commons. Besides, within AI Commons supported initiatives, our efforts also focus on leading “Global Data Commons” initiative and the network of “AI for SDG” Centers.

The AI Commons workshop at GFAIH brought together during a full day our community of experts and practitioners to take stock of progress made since the last gathering at AI for Good global Summit in May. We also dove into concrete discussions to plan the way forward to formally launch the initiative in 2020. We explored practical ways of collaboration and identified short and long-term objectives to bring an AIC into practical reality.