Wednesday, 20 June, 2018


Google bans its AI tech in weapons

Missile-AI-Use Image by Reuters clipped header original
Conrad Doyle | 08 June, 2018, 23:35

"These include cybersecurity, training, military recruitment, veterans' healthcare, and search and rescue", CEO Sundar Pichai said in a blog post. These workers protested the company's involvement in Project Maven - the controversial collaboration between Google and the US Department of Defense.

While Google has stated it will not use its technology in the development of weapons, Pichai said they will continue to work with governments on other projects. Google has said Duplex will identify itself so that wouldn't happen.

Downplayed by Google as simply "low-res object identification using AI", many Google employees saw the potentially darker side of the technology.

Aware of the potential controversy, in emails between executives last fall obtained by the New York Times, Google Cloud chief scientist Dr. Fei-Fei Li reportedly urged the company to avoid mention of AI "at all costs" when considering public mention of its involvement with Maven, and called weaponized AI "probably one of the most sensitized topics of AI - if not THE most". The work comes too close to weaponry, even though the focus is on non-offensive tasks, the official said on Thursday.

About 4,000 Google employees had signed a petition demanding "a clear policy stating that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build warfare technology".

A nine-employee committee drafted the AI principles, according to an internal email seen by Reuters. Among other things, Google specifically details things it will not pursue as part of its AI efforts. "We will seek to avoid unjust impacts on people, particularly those related to sensitive characteristics such as race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, income, sexual orientation, ability, and political or religious belief".

"This approach is consistent with the values laid out in our original founders' letter back in 2004", Pichai wrote, citing the document in which Larry Page and Sergey Brin set out their vision for the company to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful".

In the section of the blog post titled, "AI applications we will not pursue", Google listed, "Technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm". The Google official acknowledged that enforcement would be hard because the company cannot track each use of its tools, some of which can be downloaded free of charge and used privately. Representative Pete King, a New York Republican, tweeted on Thursday that Google not seeking to extend the drone deal "is a defeat for U.S. national security".

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