Google (Alphabet) recently decided to end its participation in a US military drone program, whereby Google had been supplying its AI technology to the US government. This came after 4,000 Googlers decried the company's involvement in what could turn into "autonomous killing machines," demanding an exit from "the business of war." It was Google deciding to live up to its "Don't be evil" mantra. Apparently that same credo doesn't apply to embracing state-sponsored censorship in authoritarian China. Eight years ago Google co-founder Sergey Brin told The Wall Street Journal, "[I]n some aspects of [China's] policy, particularly with respect to censorship, with respect to surveillance of dissidents, I see some earmarks of totalitarianism."
There are growing concerns about the potential risks of AI – and mounting criticism of technology giants. In the wake of what has been called an AI backlash or "techlash", states and businesses are waking up to the fact that the design and development of AI have to be ethical, benefit society and protect human rights. In the last few months, Google has faced protests from its own staff against the company's AI work with the US military. The US Department of Defense contracted Google to develop AI for analysing drone footage in what is known as "Project Maven". A Google spokesperson was reported to have said: "the backlash has been terrible for the company" and "it is incumbent on us to show leadership".
Google is committing to not using artificial intelligence for weapons or surveillance after employees protested the company's involvement in Project Maven, a Pentagon pilot program that uses artificial intelligence to analyse drone footage. However, Google says it will continue to work with the United States military on cybersecurity, search and rescue, and other non-offensive projects. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the change in a set of AI principles released today. The principles are intended to govern Google's use of artificial intelligence and are a response to employee pressure on the company to create guidelines for its use of AI. Employees at the company have spent months protesting Google's involvement in Project Maven, sending a letter to Pichai demanding that Google terminate its contract with the Department of Defense.
"You are worse than a fool; you have no care for your species. For thousands of years men dreamed of pacts with demons. Only now are such things possible." When William Gibson wrote those words in his groundbreaking 1984, novel Neuromancer, artificial intelligence remained almost entirely within the realm of science fiction. Today, however, the convergence of complex algorithms, big data, and exponential increases in computational power has resulted in a world where AI raises significant ethical and human rights dilemmas, involving rights ranging from the right to privacy to due process.
Professor Stephen Hawking has warned that artificial intelligence could develop a will of its own that is in conflict with that of humanity. It could herald dangers like powerful autonomous weapons and ways for the few to oppress the many, he said, as he called for more research in the area. But if sufficient research is done to avoid the risks, it could help in humanity's aims to'finally eradicate disease and poverty', he added. He was speaking in Cambridge at the launch of The Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, which will explore the implications of the rapid development of artificial intelligence. All great achievements of civilisation, from learning to master fire to learning to grow food to understanding the cosmos, were down to human intelligence, he said.
One day in early 1967, a designer and stunt performer named Janos Prohaska came by the Star Trek production office on what is now the Paramount Pictures lot. Producers had told him that if he could design them a creature they wanted to feature in a script, they'd let him play the part--and now Prohaska asked series creator Gene Roddenberry, story editor Dorothy Fontana, and the writer Gene L. Coon to come outside. Out on the road was a rubbery creation that looked like a pile of rocks. "Just watch," Prohaska told the producers. He laid a rubber chicken on the street, and got inside the rocky creature.
DALLAS/HOUSTON/LOS ANGELES/WASHINGTON – When Dallas police improvised a bomb-carrying robot to kill a sniper, they also kicked off an ethical debate about technology's use as a crime-fighting weapon. In what appears to be an unprecedented tactic, police rigged a bomb-disposal robot to kill an armed suspect in the fatal shootings of five officers in Dallas. While there doesn't appear to be any hard data on the subject, security experts and law enforcement officials said they couldn't recall another time when police deployed a robot with lethal intent. The strategy opens a new chapter in the escalating use of remote-controlled and semi-autonomous devices to fight crime and protect lives. It also raises new questions over when it's appropriate to dispatch a robot to kill dangerous suspects instead of continuing to negotiate their surrender.
BEIJING – China on Thursday blasted the U.S. on its human rights record in its annual tit-for-tat report, saying money and family connections are corrupting politics and calling U.S. airstrikes in Syria and Iraq a "gross violation of other countries' human rights." The report issued by the Cabinet's State Council Information Office also cited gun crime and excessive use of force by police, and touched on other topics including corruption in the prison system, homelessness, racial conflict and gender pay disparity. "Since the U.S. government can't be bothered to raise a mirror to look at itself, it's up to others to complete the task," the report said. The U.S. is also guilty of rights violations outside its borders, the report said, citing estimates of civilian deaths in Iraqi and Syrian airstrikes, drone attacks and the monitoring of foreign citizens' communications. "America is still committing gross violations of other countries' human rights, viewing lives in other countries as worthless," it said.