At the end of last year Alphabet (which owns Google) saw two key departures from the leadership of the organisation, with Google CEO Sundar Pichai stepping in to fill the vacated positions.
The new Alphabet head has many issues he needs to deal with at the company, chief among them being the culture which has seen several incidents involving sexual harassment and unfair treatment of employees in the workplace.
Another issue is the role Alphabet, and by extension Google, will play when it comes to the handling of new technologies such as artificial intelligence.
AI was a specific talking earlier this week when Pichai wrote an op-ed in The Financial Times (paywall) discussing the topic, and in particular the need for regulation.
“There is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. It is too important not to,” writes Pichai, “The only question is how to approach it.”
To that end he advocates for a more cautious approach when to comes to tackling the regulation surrounding AI, with different use cases requiring unique thinking. One example he gave was that of autonomous vehicles, which require a clearly defined set of rules, whereas an area like healthcare necessitates the integration of multiple factors.
Pichai also acknowledges the role that companies like Alphabet must take in proactively ensuring that new technology is not controlled by a small segment of society.
“Companies such as ours cannot just build promising new technology and let market forces decide how it will be used,” he notes. “It is equally incumbent on us to make sure that technology is harnessed for good and available to everyone,” he adds.
While his words are indeed admirable, and on paper sound like an effective plan for handling AI, in the real world application however, things become a bit harder to implement.
Different governments are already at odds as to how AI should be regulated, with The Verge pointing out that the US and EU are considering different tactics, with the former wanting loosened regulation and the latter wanting tighter ones.
With Sundar Pichai now heading up things at Alphabet, we hope that this latest op-ed is not simply written to spark conversation, but that he and his company will take an active role moving forward, especially as AI is primed to embed every aspect of technology in future.