Google dissolves AI ethics board just one week after forming it

Google revealed today that it dissolved a short-term external advisory board designed to monitor the use of artificial intelligence, after a week of controversy over the selection of company members. The decision, first reported today by Vox is largely due to outrage at the inclusion of the board of directors of the Heritage Foundation president, Kay Coles James, a conservative figure who has openly supported the anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and, through the Heritage Foundation. He fought against efforts to extend rights to transgender people and to combat climate change.

The advisory council, called the Advanced Technology External Consultative Council (ATEAC), included several outstanding academics in fields ranging from artificial intelligence and philosophy to psychology and robotics. But it also included those with a political background, such as James and members of the former presidential administrations of the United States.

The objective was apparently to inform Google's AI work and ensure that it was so. Following its IA Principles, established last year by CEO Sundar Pichai after the revelations, the company was participating in a Pentagon drone project that made use of the company's machine learning research. Since then, Google has said it will stop working on the project and has vowed never to develop AI armament or work on any AI project or application that violates "internationally accepted norms" or "widely accepted principles of international law and rights." humans". [19659005] "It is clear that in the current environment, ATEAC may not work as we wanted," said a Google spokesperson at The Verge . "So we are finishing the board and going back to the drawing board." We will continue to be responsible in our work on the important issues raised by AI, and we will find different ways to obtain external opinions on these issues. "

The composition of the The violent reaction only intensified inside and outside the company in the following days, Google did not give any idea of ​​how it chose its members, but the decision may have been influenced by the desire to appease Republican lawmakers and win the favor in case of regulation around AI's research and its application in real-world products and services.

The pressure on Google, which had not yet responded to the initial reaction, it increased last weekend when Professor Alessandro Acquisti of Carnegie Mellon resigned on Saturday, writing on Twitter "Although I am dedicated to research, it faces key ethical issues of impartiality, rights and inclusion in AI. I do not think this is the right forum for me to participate in this important work. "At the beginning of this week, thousands of Googlers had signed a petition requesting the elimination of James from the board."

The dissolution of the board is another victory for Google employees, over the last couple of years, since James Damore's dismissal, members of the search giant have made successful efforts within the company to effect a change in the treatment of unfair and exploitative employees, policies and practices such as forced arbitration and contract work, and Participation in government programs related to defense The strike of last year at Google, in which more than 20,000 employees protested the way in which the company protects male employees who sexually harass their colleagues, has caused an increase in the Employee activism Now, Google's leadership tends to face substantial collective action around any hot topic in which the company finds itself the other involved.

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