Google launches advisory board to help it develop ethical AI

The group will help Google avoid a repeat of the Project Maven fiasco

Google has unveiled an ethical research committee that will help deliver impartial guidance on the development of its artificial intelligence products and services.

It has been developed as a follow-up to Google's recently released AI principles, which appeared last year after the company faced a backlash from privacy groups and its own employees over its partnership with the Pentagon. Many questioned whether the 'Project Maven' deal, which involved supplying the Pentagon with AI expertise to analyse drone footage, was morally acceptable.

After receiving a petition signed by thousands of its own workers, Google decided not to pursue the relationship and developed the AI principles to explain to both internal and external parties how it would use artificial intelligence going forward.

The company's Advanced Technology External Advisory Council's purpose will be to "question our assumptions and develop our thinking on AI," chief legal officer and SVP of global affairs Kent Walker explained.

"We want to have the most informed and thoughtful conversations we can," said Walker. "We want to sit down with the council and see what agenda they want to set."

Google's new AI committee will include industry experts Alessandro Acquisti, Bubacarr Bah, De Kai, Luciano Floridi, Joanna Bryson, Kay Coles James, William Joseph Burns and Dyan Gibbons.

The first meeting will be held in April, with three others planned during 2019. The notes will be shared in a report outlining the key messages, advising the public how Google is driving AI and privacy forwards.

"We recognize that responsible development of AI is a broad area with many stakeholder," Walker added. "In addition to consulting with the experts on ATEAC, we'll continue to exchange ideas and gather feedback from partners and organizations around the world."

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