A member of Google's now-dead AI ethics board is furious with the company for killing the project after a week


Joanna Bryson

  • Google announced an ethics board last week that would monitor the firm’s use of artificial intelligence. It has already been canned.
  • An AI expert, Joanna Bryson, who was a member of the now-dead AI ethics board has criticised the company on Twitter and to the press for “pulling the plug rather than defend themselves.”
  • Google scrapped the board after intense employee backlash to Kay Coles James, who heads up a right-wing think tank, being appointed.
  • Over a thousand Googlers petitioned to have her removed over previous anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant statements.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A member of Google’s now-defunct AI ethics board has railed against the company for killing off the project.

Shortly fter Google announced its new AI ethics board last Tuesday, it came under intense pressure over the appointment of member Kay Coles James.

James heads up a right-wing think tank called the Heritage Foundation. Over a thousand Google employees signed a petition calling for James’ removal, saying she has a record of anti-LGBTQ and anti-immigrant rhetoric and so including her on the board, “significantly undermines Google’s position on AI ethics and fairness.”

Another member of the board, Oxford academic Luciano Floridi, also criticised James’ appointment in a Facebook post on Wednesday, saying he “personally recommended” that Google remove her from the board.

Google disbanded the board on Thursday, a little under a week after announcing it. Now, former board member Joanna Bryson, who is an AI expert at the University of Bath in the UK, has criticised Google’s decision to kill off the project entirely.

“I thought there were enough smart people at Google that there must be some process for either communicating or improving decisions,” she tweeted on Friday.

Bryson also expressed her dismay to Forbes, saying that the tech giant had, “pulled the plug rather than defend themselves.”

When questioned specifically about Bryson’s criticism, a Google spokesman sent Business Insider the statement issued by the company when it announced the group’s disbanding:

“It’s become clear that in the current environment, ATEAC [Advanced Technology External Advisory Council] can’t function as we wanted. So we’re ending the council and going back to the drawing board. We’ll continue to be responsible in our work on the important issues that AI raises, and will find different ways of getting outside opinions on these topics.”

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