back to article Google plonks right-wing think tanker and defence drone mogul on AI ethics advisory board

Google, keen to join the ranks of megabucks firms aiming to convince punters they take the immoral use of their tech seriously, has launched an ethics advisory council with what it terms "diverse" perspectives. The council includes the president of a controversial right-wing think tank and the boss of a drone company, and the …

  1. jpo234

    > Most of the internet: Yikes

    Don't confuse Twitterati with "most of the internet". Most of the internet is far to busy sharing pictures of cats standing up.

    1. Martijn Otto

      cats standing up

      Link please?

      1. m0rt Silver badge
        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: cats standing up

          Thank you for not using the phrase "duck it" as DDG seems to want people to use.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: cats standing up

            The reason they wish us to use Duck it, is so DuckDuckGo doesn't fall into the common usage minefield that Google is currently trying to negotiate through, with their fight against 'google' becoming synonymous with search.

      2. jpo234

        Re: cats standing up

        https://www.reddit.com/r/CatsStandingUp/

  2. evilhippo

    "Most of the internet"

    Ah I get it, the link redirected me to The Onion! For a moment then I thought you were serious ;-)

  3. Eddy Ito Silver badge

    "a shiny-happy PR op"

    Given it's Google talking about ethics, that about perfectly sums up the entire point of this AI ethics panel. It's the corporate version of a hashtag.

    1. lglethal Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: "a shiny-happy PR op"

      It's the corporate version of a hashtag.

      Hey, hey, hey.... a hashtag can at least have some use....

      1. stiine Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: "a shiny-happy PR op"

        Some of them go 'beep' when you push them, others go fucking mental.

    2. TheMeerkat

      Re: "a shiny-happy PR op"

      Unless we believe that only people with one specific minority view of left-wing liberal intelligencia graduated from “women’s studies” course has the right to decide on ethics, this is how it should be - a diverse set of view represented.

      1. lglethal Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: "a shiny-happy PR op"

        People who delibrately peddle fake news - i.e. information that is provably false, and which has been debunked multiple times, in order to push a specific political agenda - are not "a diverse set of views". They are bollocks artist who will say whatever they need to, even making shit up, in order to push their agenda.

        There are plenty of conservative voices out there that are reasonable and balanced and who would have provided considered thoughtful input to an ethics committee. The chosen muppet is the anti-thesis of this.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "a shiny-happy PR op"

          People who delibrately peddle fake news - i.e. information that is provably false, and which has been debunked multiple times, in order to push a specific political agenda - are not "a diverse set of views".

          which is, no doubt, why the Guardian circulation has to be propped up by the BBC. It keeps the bubble air tight.

      2. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: "a shiny-happy PR op"

        @TheMeerkat

        I came here to make this exact same point. When did diverse come to mean all the same?

      3. Eddy Ito Silver badge

        Re: "a shiny-happy PR op"

        @TheMeerkat, I don't understand your response. I don't care who is on the panel. The point of the panel is to have a nice dog and pony show so people think Alphabet cares about AI ethics. Like I said, it's a #hashtag.

      4. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: "a shiny-happy PR op"

        Unless we believe that only people with one specific minority view of left-wing liberal intelligencia

        Yup, which is why ethics is really just a county full of romantically casual girls and orange blokes near the sea. There's no view on anything that everyone agrees is ethical. One mans ethical view is an others unethical view.

        Lovely soundbite, but won't work in the real world.

    3. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

      Re: "a shiny-happy PR op"

      The problem is the starting point, i.e. the complete focus on profit. This is unethical - not "making a profit", necessarily, but being focused on nothing else. Once that has become the mindset, then nothing truly ethical can ever come out of such a company since there is nothing it won't do to make more money. Alphabet are just putting lipstick on a turd. However, a balanced ethics committee always has as broad a range of opinions as can be managed, so there is some small hope that it will be somewhat effective.

      1. 's water music Silver badge
        Headmaster

        Re: "a shiny-happy PR op" mixed metaphors

        Alphabet are just putting lipstick on a turd.

        Lipstick is a applied to pig. I cannot be applied to a turd any more than a turd can be polished. That is why turds are rolled in glitter to make them superficially more appealing

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ethicswashing is required.

    Many think companies have ethics but that is only allowed when the company is privately owned, or non-profit or isn't a company at all but instead a political or religious organization.

    Ethics are not allowed to interfere with profit. Companies have one and only one reason to exist, profit, that's their responsibility to investors. IT can be hidden behind window dressing of many different kinds but only if those dressings and it's image help generate profits.

    Ethics are for people and their representatives who enforce those ethics on companies by removing all profits from unethical behaviours.

    Today there is little effective enforcement of ethics. laws or even national interests. Jail for board members is almost unheard of and fines even in the billions are little more than expenses.

    That has been on display post 2008 but it has been that way for a very long line. Companies are now expected to ethicwash and done well it will make them appear ethical. But their only purpose is profit at any cost to anyone else, that cannot change when it is their only reason to exist.

    Does it really matter if those doing the ethicwashing are left or right politically? Both have the same objectives if they answer to shareholders. Referencing political leanings appears to be click bait and distraction, meant to trigger rather than reveal. To generate reads and responses, well I guess that works so it does matter depending on the reason for being.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Ethicswashing is required.

      "Ethics are not allowed to interfere with profit."

      This is a very serious oversimplification and as such, isn't true as a blanket statement. What is true is that corporations have to adhere to their charter, and not all private corporations have "profit at all costs" as their charter. If that were true, all corporations would switch to selling porn and drugs.

    2. Kicker of Metaphorical Cats

      Re: Ethicswashing is required.

      "Many think companies have ethics but that is only allowed when the company is privately owned, or non-profit or isn't a company at all but instead a political or religious organization."

      If only. Any organization that does not believe, or care, that they have to answer to another has to make a unconscious effort to be/remain ethical. Why do you think companies and governments have ethics committees? Hint, it is not because they are ethical.

    3. DougS Silver badge

      Google has no ethics

      The board is just there to keep up appearances, so it doesn't really matter who is on it or what their views are. They aren't there to actually call Google out on anything, but to allow Google's CEO to say "this project passed our ethics board" when their next evil deed is discovered.

  5. Daniel M

    The Heritage Foundation? Oh, nooo! I'm melting!

    Sorry that some people are so religiously fanatic that they resort to histrionics -- or take to "social media" -- at any hint of disagreement with their unreasoned views based on the divine revelation that is Twitter. Get those stakes and pyres ready! There is a Foreign Thought among us!

  6. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. John Savard Silver badge

    Diverse Perspectives

    Well, Google needs someone on its AI ethics board that will tell them it's unethical to use AI to skew search results so as to convince everyone that Trump is the spawn of the devil. Because apparently while they never did that, some of their employees were considering that as being an appropriate manifestation of corporate responsibility.

    So the question really is how Google will listen to this board. If it doesn't do anything that at least some of the board members object to, fine. If it feels it's OK to do anything the whole board hasn't agreed to is wrong, then we're in trouble.

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Diverse Perspectives

      What?

    2. I.Geller Bronze badge

      Re: Diverse Perspectives

      Google is Sergey Brin. He decides everything.

  8. naive

    The article is full of lefty speak

    >> which has come under fire for spreading misinformation about climate change.

    Typical lefty jargon... having different opinion equals "misinformation" equals a single trip to Siberia (in the golden days of leftism in Russia).

    After having been infested by the lefty fifth column so badly, it is understandable Google wants more diversity in its advisory board.

    1. FQ

      Re: The article is full of lefty speak

      World is full of choices. If you like your rightly filth you can go to Breitbart, FoxNews, etc.

  9. I.Geller Bronze badge

    I want to know if anyone thinks that AI doesn't exist.

    I'm tired of talking. I want to know if anyone thinks that AI doesn't exist.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: I want to know if anyone thinks that AI doesn't exist.

      I think that AI doesn't exist, if by AI people mean "artificial intelligence". Current AI systems are very powerful, but they're still just pattern-matching systems that don't engage in anything that resembles intelligent thought.

      1. I.Geller Bronze badge

        Re: I want to know if anyone thinks that AI doesn't exist.

        Talk to NIST TREC? They clearly said that AI should be able to answer both Factoid and Definition (Other) questions. Those "just pattern-matching systems" you're talking about can. Consider them AI or no is rather a rhetorical question.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: I want to know if anyone thinks that AI doesn't exist.

          I'm not sure what NIST TREC's opinion has to do with anything. A system that can answer such questions doesn't, all by itself, imply that there's intelligence going on.

          > Consider them AI or no is rather a rhetorical question.

          Yes, it has to be, since we don't have anything close to a good definition of "intelligence". As such, any declaration (including my own) of what does or does not qualify as intelligent is necessary rhetorical. "Is it intelligent" is an impossible question to answer until everyone can agree on what intelligence actually is. And there is no broad agreement about that.

          1. I.Geller Bronze badge

            Re: I want to know if anyone thinks that AI doesn't exist.

            Such an answer implies knowledge and understanding of a question's context and subtext, which was not possible before I patented.

            1) The context is obtained by AI-parsing, which opposes n-gram parsing.

            2) A word's subtext is its dictionary definition. Also, other explanatory texts are its subtexts. (See Merriam Webster? Or Oxford?)

            --------

            My formulation: "Intelligence is the process of becoming better, where the best is the limit." That is, I apply Differential Analysis.

            Why?

            There are two sentences

            -Alice.

            -Alice dances, jests and rejoices.

            The first - one word which means everything and nothing. The second - three phrases, .(3) each.

            I think this is Differential Linguistic, the second sentence becomes the first (process). By analogy I decided that intellect also has the same differential nature/ is a process.

            1. JohnFen Silver badge

              Re: I want to know if anyone thinks that AI doesn't exist.

              > My formulation: "Intelligence is the process of becoming better, where the best is the limit."

              And there's the nut of our difference: I don't agree with that definition at all.

              1. I.Geller Bronze badge

                Re: I want to know if anyone thinks that AI doesn't exist.

                Understandable. This is not a definition, not at all... But any attempt to define a differential process in finite terms comes to failure. I decided to say it's a function and stop there.

  10. cirby

    Or...

    ...they might have included these contrarians to keep the "ethics experts" from addressing silly, unrealistic scenarios, to keep them focused on what the industry is actually doing.

    "Yeah, we know that making a T-1000 or an ED-209 would be a bad move, but let's address the issues involved in dealing with the things we can ACTUALLY build in the near future. It also might be nice to look at what other countries are working on right now, instead of going on and on about the US military-industrial-academic complex and how awful it is."

  11. Nunyabiznes

    Diversity

    Amazing how diversity is a rallying cry right up until it is embraced and some small head nod is given to anything slightly right of center.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Diversity

      A bit like liberalism involving ignoring anyone who disagrees with the prevailing liberal groupthink.

  12. Frank Oz

    When Google let go of ...

    ... the ''don't be evil' policy in April/May last year, they were simply clearing the decks for little numbers like this.

    In the near future they'll be hosting death camps, organising whale hunts and lauding child molesters as they take us into their glorious future.

  13. RyokuMas Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Pot, kettle...

    "Google... aiming to convince punters they take the immoral use of their tech seriously

    Did I miss something here, or is this some kind of Orwellian doublespeak?

  14. Sam Therapy
    Thumb Down

    Google acts like Google

    Same old shite.

  15. I.Geller Bronze badge

    What ethics? Google's "a set of principles aimed at guiding the ethical development of AI"

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2019/03/27/artificial-intelligence-pioneers-win-turing-award/?utm_term=.89e9b4764f8c

    "The Turing Award comes with a $1 million prize, funded by Google"

    "Artificial-intelligence pioneers win $1 million Turing Award"

    "The researchers, working both independently and together, helped advance the thinking and application of neural networks, the technology that gives computers the ability to recognize patterns, interpret language and glean insights from complex data."

    I patented this all! What ethics?

    "Hinton is a vice president and engineering fellow at Google."

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019