Google’s ethics board shut down

An independent group set up to oversee the ethical considerations of Google‘s artificial intelligence innovations has been shut down less than a fortnight after it was launched. The Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) was due to look at the ethics around AI, machine learning and facial recognition. However, there had been outcry over the appointment of Kay Coles-James, who is also President of American conservative think-tank, The Heritage Foundation.

Thousands of Google employees signed a petition calling for her removal, claiming past comments Coles-James has made have been “anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant”. At the weekend, a member of the ethics board, Prof Alessandro Acquisti, resigned, tweeting: “While I’m devoted to research grappling with key ethical issues of fairness, rights and inclusion in AI, I don’t believe this is the right forum for me to engage in this important work.”

The board had planned to meet four times in 2019, but now question marks exist over whether Google plans to re-establish the board. However, Google still has the Advanced Technology Review Council, whose board members’ names are yet to be released.

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