Google dissolves AI ethics council - 10 days after forming it

The Google logo stands on display at the 2018 NOAH conference

The Google logo stands on display at the 2018 NOAH conference

A Google spokesperson confirmed the closure to Business Insider.

On Thursday, the tech giant announced it had dissolved the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council, which was meant to bring outside experts together to help inform Google's views on developing artificial intelligence.

That suggests the ethics council will be revived in some form, although it's unclear if Google will try the same approach next time.

There had been an outcry over the appointment of Kay Coles James, who is president of conservative thinktank The Heritage Foundation.

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 group believes that James is "vocally anti-trans" for doing things like referring to trans-women as "biological males". Thousands of Google employees signed a petition calling for her removal, over what they described as "anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant" comments.

The group said that her addition "significantly undermines Google's position on AI ethics and fairness" and that because "the potential harms of AI are not evenly distributed", people "who are most marginalized are most at risk".

The Silicon Valley giant has now confirmed the board is cancelled, telling Vox on Thursday "in the current environment" the ATEAC "can't function as we wanted".

Oh Google. A mere 10 days after forming an advisory council to guide the company's development of AI, Google has shuttered the committee and gone 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", the statement continued.

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