After being nearly run over many times during workouts in my Raleigh neighborhood, my stance on robotic/autonomous cars has undergone a major change: Bring them on and get idiots out from behind the wheels (or handlebars – yes, I had a close encounter with a nitwit pedaling at high speed while using his smartphone.)

But a much broader, artificial intelligence-dominated future filled by robotics, algorithms and drones leaves me squeamish. I’ve read and watched too much science fiction about the perils.

Right now, I’m split on voting “utopia” or “dystopia.”

Now comes news that five of the world’s tech giants – Google, Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft – are teaming up in an effort to persuade us that artificial intelligence is our friend, not a threat to our jobs or a human future. Note that Apple isn’t a founding member. Does Apple suspect or know something the others don’t – or something we the public should know?

The Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society, they call it.

Will this be education or brainwashing?

A reading of news headlines reflects a mixed bag of reactions to the news. (Read WTW’s sampling.)

Where’s Isaac Asimov when we need him most to extend his “I, Robot” rules to ecommerce, news feeds, product deliveries, shopping and much more?

“AI technologies hold tremendous potential to improve many aspects of life, ranging from healthcare, education, and manufacturing to home automation and transportation,” the partners said in the announcement.

“Through rigorous research, the development of best practices, and an open and transparent dialogue, the founding members of the Partnership on AI hope to maximize this potential and ensure it benefits as many people as possible.”

Their stated mission:

“Established to study and formulate best practices on AI technologies, to advance the public’s understanding of AI, and to serve as an open platform for discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society.”

Their first tenet:

“We believe that artificial intelligence technologies hold great promise for raising the quality of people’s lives and can be leveraged to help humanity address important global challenges such as climate change, food, inequality, health, and education.”

Back in June, WRAL TechWire published a story about the “myths of AI” as pointed out by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. (“Will AI really kill us?”)

The big five will try to persuade us AI won’t.