Google pulls plug on AI, tech advisory board

Google employees opposed the company's formation of an A.I. ethics board

Google employees opposed the company's formation of an A.I. ethics board

"So we're ending the council and going back to the drawing board", a spokesperson for Google told Vox.

Google said Thursday that it's pulling the plug on its newly announced artificial intelligence ethics council, after more than a week of outcry over some of the members the search giant had chosen for the group. Over a thousand Google employees signed a petition calling for James' removal, saying she has a record of anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant rhetoric and so including her on the board, "significantly undermines Google's position on AI ethics and fairness".

One of the primary factors for closing the council may have been the response of Google's own staff.

But the move sparked criticism as Google employees hit out at the appointment of Kay Coles James, president of USA think tank The Heritage Foundation. The board included a number of prominent academics in fields ranging from AI and philosophy to psychology and robotics, the problem though is that it also included those with policy backgrounds, like James and members of former U.S. presidential administrations.

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In its statement following the establishment of the board called the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC), Google said it was founded for the objective of ensuring "responsible development of AI" in the American tech firm.

The post announcing the council has now been updated to announce the reversal. The temporary employees have stated that they worked on Google Assistant's voice so it will be available in over 50 languages. AI psychology expert Joanna Bryson commented on Twitter: "I have no idea what I'm getting myself into, other than some idea of who I'm getting into with".

Ten days might seem like a strangely short time for a council of this type to last, but the ATEAC was mired in controversy nearly from minute one. A political stance that essentially took the neutrality of the board away and one which Google eventually realised was against its intended objective. Internal Google messages published by Breitbart News show a high level of hysterics amongst employees over the A.I. board.

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