Google CEO bans autonomous weapons in new AI guidelines

09 June, 2018, 21:44 | Author: Brooke Harris
  • Missile-AI-Use

But Google's new limits appear to have done little to slow the Pentagon's technological researchers and engineers, who say other contractors will still compete to help develop technologies for the military and national defense. The charter sets "concrete standards" for how Google will design its AI research, implement its software tools and steer clear of certain work, Pichai said in a blog post. Google likely planned to bid on JEDI, a cloud computing contract with the Defense Department that could be worth as much as $10 billion.

Breakthroughs in the cost and performance of advanced computers have carried AI from research labs into industries such as defense and health in the last couple of years. Google has since decided not to renew the contract.

Google, Pichai said, will not pursue the development of AI when it could be used to break global law, cause overall harm or surveil people in violation of "internationally accepted norms of human rights". Those principles include not building applications that can be used as weapons or cause harm to humans.

Google's charter is a watershed moment for the company and AI as a field.

Google also claimed it would "avoid" making "unfair biases", including political and religious biases through its A.I. algorithms.

Thousands of Google employees signed a petition in April calling on CEO Sundar Pichai to cancel the partnership.

These have been obviously made in response to the controversy surrounding their involvement in Project Maven, a program run out of the Pentagon in the U.S. for the Department of Defense that was aimed at improving imagery used by drones. Other employees described the internal reception as lukewarm.

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While the principles were released soon after the protests over Project Maven, the guidelines also cover a wide range of the concerns people have over AI. In the guidelines, the company promised that it will not design AI for use in weapons, surveillance or technology that causes harm.

"Ultimately, how the company enacts these principles is what will matter more than statements such as this", Asaro said.

Peter Asaro, vice chairman of the International Committee for Robot Arms Control, said this week that Google's backing off from the project was good news because it slows down a potential AI arms race over autonomous weapons systems. "Bit vague in places", he wrote on Twitter.

The staff who opposed the Project Maven deal also noted, in an internal email on Friday, that they would look closely at the charter and weigh in.

Google expects to have talks with the Pentagon over how it can fulfil its contract obligations without violating the principles outlined Thursday.

While this is how we're choosing to approach AI, we understand there is room for many voices in this conversation. And we will continue to share what we've learned to improve AI technologies and practices.

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