Google to pull plug on AI ethics council

Reuters

Posted at Apr 05 2019 10:00 AM

FILE PHOTO: A woman touches a screen on a robot developed by iFlytek at the outpatient hall of People's Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing, China March 16, 2017. Zhao Naiming/Qianlong.com via Reuters

Alphabet Inc's Google said on Thursday it was dissolving a council it had formed a week earlier to consider ethical issues around artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

The council had run into controversy over 2 of its members, according to online news portal Vox, which first reported the dissolution of the council.

The council, launched on March 26, was meant to provide recommendations for Google and other companies and researchers working in areas such as facial recognition software, a form of automation that has prompted concerns about racial bias and other limitations.

The 8-member Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) included technology experts and digital ethicists.

"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," a Google representative said in an emailed statement.

The Vox report said Google employees had signed a petition calling for the removal of one of the members over comments about transsexual people, and added that the inclusion of a drone company executive had raised debate over use of Google's AI for military applications.