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McKinsey joins the Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society

AI-driven automation is changing the way packaging and fulfillment centers work today.

Last month, McKinsey joined the Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society as part of the nonprofit organization’s first membership class since its founding in 2016 by Amazon, Apple, DeepMind, Facebook, Google, IBM, and Microsoft.

The Partnership on AI is a consortium of companies, academics, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and nonprofits dedicated to ensuring that artificial intelligence (AI) – the capacity for computer programs to learn, decide, and mimic other intelligent human behavior – is developed in a safe, ethical, and transparent manner.

“AI is the latest disruptive technology and should be very important to all leaders—whether they’re CEOs or policy makers—because it will affect every single sector of the economy. Every sector will rely on it in a meaningful way,” says James Manyika, director of the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) and a senior partner based in McKinsey’s San Francisco office.

The power of AI becomes more apparent by the day as it helps humans perform an ever-increasing number of tasks more efficiently or effectively than we could alone, from spotting potential tumors in medical scans to predicting in advance when critical machinery will fail.

However, as AI establishes its presence in all aspects of society, both visibly and invisibly, it will have an impact that reaches beyond the tasks it deftly performs. MGI research demonstrates, for example, how AI has already changed the way dozens of jobs are carried out––and is poised to transform the face of employment in the coming decades.

“We’re keenly interested in making sure that AI is developed and implemented in a way that helps our society and doesn’t further entrench bias, discrimination, or inequality,” James explains. The Partnership will develop best practices in AI, which McKinsey will help shape and share in its own work.

To encourage practitioners to take on pressing long-term social issues, the Partnership will host AI Grand Challenges and establish an award for the academic paper that contributes the most to “AI, people, and society.” It will also create Civil Society Fellowships, which will provide resources to nonprofits and NGOs that want to collaborate on topics within AI.

Other for-profit organizations joining the Partnership along with McKinsey include eBay, Intel, Salesforce.com, and Sony; nonprofit partners include the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, and UNICEF.

“We’re proud to join this group, especially as the first non-pure tech firm. Many may not realize it, but we have been working with our clients on AI, machine learning, and deep learning,” explains Michael Chui, a San Francisco-based partner at MGI who researches the impact of information technologies and innovation on society.

McKinsey Analytics has assembled a team of data scientists, engineers, analysts, and business-to-technology “translators” who help clients improve performance by capturing and using the data created through their everyday activities. Through investments in growth and acquisitions and alliances with cutting-edge analytics firms, the depth and breadth of McKinsey’s AI expertise continues to grow. Over the past two years, the practice has served clients on over 2,000 engagements on a wide range of analytics and AI applications, such as customer retention, pricing and promotion strategies, fraud prevention, talent retention, and predictive maintenance.

Featured experts

James Manyika

Chairman and Director, McKinsey Global Institute, and Senior Partner, San Francisco

Michael Chui

MGI Partner, San Francisco