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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Google cancels AI ethics board in response to outcry

Kelsey Piper
www.Vox.com
Originally published April 4, 2019

his week, Vox and other outlets reported that Google’s newly created AI ethics board was falling apart amid controversy over several of the board members.

Well, it’s officially done falling apart — it’s been canceled. Google told Vox on Thursday that it’s pulling the plug on the ethics board.

The board survived for barely more than one week. Founded to guide “responsible development of AI” at Google, it would have had eight members and met four times over the course of 2019 to consider concerns about Google’s AI program. Those concerns include how AI can enable authoritarian states, how AI algorithms produce disparate outcomes, whether to work on military applications of AI, and more. But it ran into problems from the start.

Thousands of Google employees signed a petition calling for the removal of one board member, Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James, over her comments about trans people and her organization’s skepticism of climate change. Meanwhile, the inclusion of drone company CEO Dyan Gibbens reopened old divisions in the company over the use of the company’s AI for military applications.

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