Google launches global advisory council for artificial intelligence, technological ethics

Google Berlin office
Workers move a Google logo during the opening of the new Alphabet’s Google Berlin office in Berlin, Germany.

Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Tuesday it was launching a global advisory council to consider ethical issues around artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

The council, which is slated to publish a report at the end of 2019, includes technology experts, digital ethicists, and people with public policy backgrounds, Kent Walker, Google’s senior vice president for global affairs, said at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology conference.

The group is 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.

“We want to have the most informed and thoughtful conversations we can,” Walker said on stage at the MIT Technology Review event in San Francisco. “We want to sit down with the council and see what agenda they want to set.”

Google already has its own internal AI principles, which, among other provisions, bars the California-based tech firm from using AI to develop weapons.

The eight-member Advanced Technology External Advisory Council includes Joanna Bryson, an associate professor in computing at the University of Bath; William J. Burns, a former U.S. deputy secretary of state, and Dyan Gibbens, chief executive of Houston-based drone startup Trumbull, according to a Google blog post.

The council will meet four times, beginning in April, the blog post said.

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