GOOGLE HAS CANNED its newly-formed ethics board for artificial intelligence after just one week.
The Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) never really got off the starting blocks, after objections to a number of the board's members allowed it to fall into immediate disarray.
The board was formed to help create "responsible development of AI" at the company, but thousands of Googlers signed a petition calling for the removal of Kay Coles James from the board, owing to her comments about the trans community and her place as president of the Heritage Foundation, an organisation with a sceptical view of climate change.
A second board member, Dyan Gibbens, who runs a drone company caused suspicion amongst the community following previous concerns over Google's involvement in bidding for military contracts.
After one board member, Alessandro Acquisti (it's almost in the name) resigned, others were deluged with demands that they justify their reasons for remaining.
One, Joanna Bryson gave the horrifying defence that she knew "worse about one of the other" board members.
In a statement to Vox, Google formally announced that it was dissolving the panel: "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."
The board was designed to meet every three months to discuss matters including military applications of AI, bias and disparity in results, and misuse of the technology by rogue states.
Google has already climbed down from bidding for military contracts after an employee revolt, but as a company that has proudly boasted that it is "AI first", a further failure to capitalise on the opportunity to show its ethical chops is a bit awkward to say the least. μ
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