News & Insights for the AI Journey|Wednesday, April 24, 2019
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Google Brings in Outside AI Advisors 

(PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Shutterstock)

Growing unease about the arc of AI technology is prompting companies to step back from their breakneck development efforts to consider the ethical implications of AI and how to foster responsible development of future products.

The latest is AI leader Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), which this week announced an outside advisory council to consider issues ranging from avoiding bias in machine learning to the appropriate use of facial recognition technologies. The external group is an extension of Google’s ethnical AI charter announced last June.

Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president for global affairs, said the search giant’s Advanced Technology External Advisory Group would “complement the internal governance structure and processes that help us implement [Google’s AI] principles.

The eight-member panel (three women and five men) spans disciplines ranging from applied and computational mathematics and machine learning to psychology, philosophy, economics and diplomacy. Most are affiliated with universities, while others work for think tanks or run their own companies focusing on relevant technologies such as automation and unmanned systems.

Google’s external advisory board is scheduled to meet four times this year, convening for this first time in April. Google said it plans to publish a report summarizing those discussions.

Bios of the eight members are available here.

Google’s AI efforts have come under intense scrutiny after an internal rebellion last year forced senior executives to jettison AI research for the U.S. military called Project Maven. In January, European regulators imposed a record €50 million fine on Google for violating provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation covering data collection used for targeted advertising.

Google’s AI ethics initiative is part of a larger push to place guard rails on AI development and deployment as fears grow that machine intelligence could get out of hand. For example, a congressional resolution introduced earlier this month in the House of Representatives seeks to promote the “transparency and explainability of AI systems, processes and implications.”

In unveiling Google’s AI principles in response to last year’s company revolt, CEO Sundar Pichai pledged to “work with a range of stakeholders to promote thoughtful leadership in this area, drawing on scientifically rigorous and multidisciplinary approaches.”

About the author: George Leopold

George Leopold has written about science and technology for more than 30 years, focusing on electronics and aerospace technology. He previously served as executive editor of Electronic Engineering Times. Leopold is the author of "Calculated Risk: The Supersonic Life and Times of Gus Grissom" (Purdue University Press, 2016).

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