A week ago Google announced that it had created an ethics board to monitor how the tech giant utilised artificial intelligence (AI), but the board’s lifetime is rather short-lived, with it recently being dissolved, as per a report from Vox.
Ever since it was first announced, the AI ethics board (called the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council) was mired in controversy, not regarding the subject matter that they would be handling, but rather as a result of the people it choose to assign to this panel.
More specifically Google was criticised for the appointment of Kay Coles James to the panel. For those of you unfamiliar with James, she heads the controversial Heritage Foundation, which she used to spread an anti-LGTBQ message and actively fought against the rights of transgender individuals, as well as the evidence surrounding climate change.
Naturally then James is a very poor fit for an ethics board which will be looking at how AI is implemented by a company as large as Google, which will likely set the tone for how AI is handled by several other Silicon Valley tech companies.
As Vox notes, thousands of Google employees voiced their concern over James’ appointment, signing a petition calling for her removal as a result of her comments around some of the aforementioned issues.
The outcry has been heard by Google, with a spokesperson explaining that would be dissolved, as other means of acquiring new opinions on AI was being investigated.
“It’s become clear that in the current environment, ATEAC can’t function as we wanted. 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,” said the unnamed spokesperson to Vox.
As for whether Google will try to create a new ethics board following this recent one’s dissolving, is unclear for now, but it should be noted that having such an entity in place is important.