In a sudden turn of events, Google has abandoned an advisory board on ethics in AI as critics were up in arms against the inclusion of Kay Cole James, leader of the right-wing organization Heritage Foundation, according to a report by TechCrunch. Google employees and other stakeholders wanted the mistake to be corrected and Google responded by dropping the whole thing.
Google came up with the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council in late March and the main aim of the council was to take into consideration some of the complex challenges arising out of the developments in the field of AI, like facial recognition and fairness in machine learning, providing diverse perspectives to inform our work.
But the inclusion of James raised various eyebrows as her views on several important topics like immigration, social issues, and climate change, among others is well known and this made her inclusion all the more puzzling for a company that is normally considered rather progressive on those topics.
According to a group within Google, inclusion of James elevates and endorses her views, implying that hers is a valid perspective worthy of inclusion in its decision making. As of now 2380 employees have signed the petition asking her to be removed.
After sensing the temperature rising with the inclusion of James, Google decided that it was better to get rid of the advisory council and the panel was turning out to be more trouble than it was worth.
The company said in a statement:
“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.”