Google's AI principles are not a substitute for regulation

Ivan Schwartz
June 10, 2018

The guidelines come after an internal and external backlash to the use of artificial intelligence technology in a contract Google signed previous year with the Department of Defense, known as Project Maven.

Other companies leading the race developing AI are also grappling with ethical issues - including Apple, Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft, which have formed a group with Google called the Partnership on AI. This officially turned Google into a defense contractor, which is a company that provides products or services to the US military or USA intelligence agencies. So today, we're announcing seven principles to guide our work going forward.

Pichai said the AI applications will be screened to make sure that they are socially beneficial, won't create unfair bias, are safe, accountable to people, incorporate design principles, consistent with scientific excellence, and be made available for uses that maintain the previous principles.

Google has published a blog post outlining a new set of AI principles. The company won't, for example, work on surveillance that falls outside "internationally accepted norms" or anything risky unless "the benefits substantially outweigh the risks". However, the company says it will continue working with the U.S. government and military on other technologies.

Only weapons that have a "principal purpose" of causing injury will be avoided, but it's unclear which weapons that refers to.

"The global norms surrounding espionage, cyberoperations, mass information surveillance, and even drone surveillance are all contested and debated in the worldwide sphere", he said.

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But it will continue (it says) to work to "limit potentially harmful or abusive applications" of AI.

After pressure from its employees, Google officially announced its AI technology will not be used in weapons.

Google has a set of new rules that look good on paper.

That means steering clear of "weapons or other technologies whose principal objective or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people" and systems "that gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms". "These include cybersecurity, training, military recruitment, veterans' healthcare, and search and rescue", he wrote. Reports stated that the US Military was using Google's AI for facial detection through drones, which would violate people privacy.

However, the new principles suggest that Goggle will go on to collaborate with the military "in many areas", other than AI surveillance projects that may violate internationally recognized human rights principles. Last week, cloud chief Diane Greene said Google would not renew the deal when it expires next year - an unusual withdrawal from a business deal.

Other reports by GizPress

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