The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, on Thursday revealed the company’s plan to set new ethical guidelines for how the tech-giant should work in an age of actively thriving AI. With the increase in a number of the AI enthusiasts competing to become pioneers in self-driving cars, automated assistants, robotics, military AI and others, Google becomes more repellent to such advancements.
“We recognize such powerful technology raises equally powerful questions about its use”, Pichai wrote in a blog post. “As a leader in AI, we feel a special responsibility to get this right,” he added. Alphabet – the parent company of Google, is considered one of the leading authorities in AI and employs the field’s top talents, worldwide.
This strict move comes as a result of a firestorm of Google employees resigning and public criticisms over a contract that Google signed with the Defense Department of a year-long support for a project that could help analyze drone videos – the Project Maven. The public and the critics argued it to be a move that took the company one step closer to “business of war”. The Google executives decided to back-off from the venture and announced that the contract will not be renewed for another year.
The company, however, will continue to support the defense and the military with services like cybersecurity, training, veteran health care, search and rescue, and military-recruitment, Pichai said. The “Don’t be Evil” slogan has got the web giant in the run for two multibillion-dollar contracts from the Defense for cloud and office services.
Pichai continued to state that any Google apps or software that violates the newly formed guidelines will be blocked or removed. This enforcement, however, would be difficult says a Google official, because to track use of its every tool, some of which can be downloaded free of charge and used privately will require a lot of hard work.
While on the other hand, Google’s decision to restrict military work has inspired criticism from members of Congress. Pete King, a New York Republican, tweeted that “Google’s decision to cancel Pentagon contract to develop AI for drone strike accuracy is disgraceful….this is a defeat for U.S National Security.”
While supporters like Peter Eckersley, Chief Computer Scientist at Electronic Frontier Foundation, backs the Google’s idea of not supporting AI-assisted surveillance systems, it also seems that with Google is still working on Project Maven will develop a Google-earth-like surveillance system offering an exquisite capability for near real-time analysis of drone footage.