Google dissolves AI ethics board just one week after forming it
byCyberlink Team / 10 Jan 2018
Google today disclosed that it has dissolved a short-lived, external advisory board designed to monitor its use of artificial intelligence, following a week of controversy regarding the company’s selection of members. The decision, reported first today by Vox, is largely due to outcry over the board’s inclusion of Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James, a noted conservative figure who has openly espoused anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and, through the Heritage Foundation, fought efforts to extend rights to transgender individuals and to combat climate change.
The advisory board, called the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC), included a number of prominent academics in fields ranging from AI and philosophy to psychology and robotics. But it also included those with policy backgrounds, like James and members of former US presidential administrations.
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The goal was ostensibly to inform Google’s AI work and to ensure it was following its AI Principles, set out last year by CEO Sundar Pichai after revelations the company was participating in a Pentagon drone project that made use of the company’s machine learning research. Google has since said it will stop working on the project and has pledged never to develop AI weaponry or work on any project or application of AI that violates “internationally accepted norms” or “widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.”
“It’s become clear that in the current environment, ATEAC can’t function as we wanted,” a Google spokesperson told The Verge. “So we’re ending the council and going back to the drawing board. We’ll continue to be responsible in our work on the important issues that AI raises, and will find different ways of getting outside opinions on these topics.”