Google creates external advisory board to monitor it for unethical AI use

Google today announced a new external advisory board to help monitor the company's use of artificial intelligence for ways it may violate the ethical principles it presented last summer. The group was announced by Kent Walker, Google's senior vice president of global affairs, and includes experts in a wide range of topics, including mathematics, computer science, engineering, philosophy, public policy, psychology and even foreign policy.

The group will be called the Advanced Technology External Advisory Board, and it seems that Google wants it to be seen as a kind of independent watchdog that monitors how AI is implemented in the real world, with a focus on facial recognition and bias mitigation incorporated in machine learning training methods. "This group will consider some of the more complex Google challenges that arise under our AI Principles (…) that provide diverse perspectives to inform our work," writes Walker.

As for the members, the names may not be easily recognizable to those outside the academy. However, the credentials of the board of directors seem to be of the highest caliber, with curricula that include multiple positions of presidential administration and stations in top-level universities that include the University of Oxford, the University of Science and Technology of Hong Kong and UC Berkeley That said, the selection, including the president of the Heritage Foundation, Kay Coles James, seems to be aimed, at least in part, at appealing to the Republican Party and possibly helping to influence legislation related to AI in the future.

Some board critics have noted that James, through his involvement with the conservative think tank, has adopted an anti-LGBTQ rhetoric on his public Twitter profile:

Google was not immediately available for comment with respect to James & # 39; anti-LBGTQ The postures and their selection process for the advisory board.

Last year, Google became embroiled in a controversy over its participation in a drone program of the US Department of Defense. UU Named Project Maven. After an immense internal reaction and external criticism for having employees work on artificial intelligence projects that may involve taking human lives, Google decided to end its participation in Maven after the expiration of its contract. It also created a new set of guidelines, which CEO Sundar Pichai dubbed the Google AI Principles, which would prohibit the company from working on any product or technology that could violate "internationally accepted norms" or "widely accepted principles of international law and human rights". "

" We recognize that such a powerful technology raises equally powerful questions about its use, "Pichai wrote at the time. Developing and using AI will have a significant impact on society for many years, and as a leader in artificial intelligence, we feel a deep responsibility to do this well. " Google wants its AI research to be "socially beneficial," and that often means not taking contracts with the government or working in territories or markets with notable human rights violations.

In any case, Google found itself in another similar controversy related to its plans to launch a search product in China, which may involve the deployment of some kind of artificial intelligence in a country that is currently trying to use that same technology to monitor and track its citizens The promise of Google differs from the positions of Amazon and Microsoft, which have said they will continue working in the United States government. Microsoft has won a $ 480 million contract to provide HoloLens headphones to the Pentagon, while Amazon continues to sell its Rekognition facial recognition software to law enforcement agencies.

Update 3/26, 6:37 PM ET: He added that critics of the Google advisory board are asking the company to respond for their selection of the president of the Heritage Foundation, Kay Coles James.

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