Google has scrapped its artificial intelligence ethics advisory panel just after a week of its formation. The search giant included eight researchers and experts in the advisory council, but it had to cancel the board because of controversy over its membership.
Google on Thursday confirmed that it is dissolving the ‘Advanced Technology External Advisory Council’ (ATEAC) as a group of Google employees launched a public campaign against having the president of conservative think-tank Heritage Foundation among its members.
On Monday, Google employees began circulating a petition asking the company to remove Kay Coles James from the committee. More than 2,300 employees reportedly signed a petition titled “Googlers Against Transphobia and Hate,” citing James outlook as the “anti-trans, anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant.”
“It’s become clear that in the current environment, ATEAC can’t function as we wanted,” Google told AFP. “So we’re ending the council and going back to the drawing board.”
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The ATEAC was formed to help Google “question our assumptions and develop our thinking on AI.” With increasing technology advancement, ethics in artificial intelligence has become an increasingly important, such as AI won’t be used for weapons or surveillance.
The advisory council group was suppose to complement the public AI principles that Google released last summer. The idea was to formally meet with Google four times in 2019, and publish a report summarizing their discussions. Google had also formed a “responsible innovation team” internally.