The ACM Conference for Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAccT) has decided to suspend its sponsorship relationship with Google, conference sponsorship co-chair and Boise State University assistant professor Michael Ekstrand confirmed today. The organizers of the AI ethics research conference came to this decision a little over a week after Google fired Ethical AI lead Margaret Mitchell and three months after the firing of Ethical AI co-lead Timnit Gebru. Google has subsequently reorganized about 100 engineers across 10 teams, including placing Ethical AI under the leadership of Google VP Marian Croak. "FAccT is guided by a Strategic Plan, and the conference by-laws charge the Sponsorship Chairs, in collaboration with the Executive Committee, with developing a sponsorship portfolio that aligns with that plan," Ekstrand told VentureBeat in an email. "The Executive Committee made the decision that having Google as a sponsor for the 2021 conference would not be in the best interests of the community and impede the Strategic Plan. We will be revising the sponsorship policy for next year's conference."
Andrew Heikkila is a tech enthusiast and writer from Boise, Idaho. More posts by this contributor: Let's start getting excited about robots taking our jobs Let's start getting excited about robots taking our jobs Let's start getting excited about robots taking our jobs Artificial intelligence has fascinated mankind for more than half a century, with the first public mention of computer intelligence recorded during a London lecture by Alan Turing in 1947. More recently, the public has been exposed to headlines that have increasingly contained references to the growing power of AI, whether that's been AlphaGo's defeat of legendary Go player Lee Se-dol, Microsoft's racist AI bot named Tay or any other number of new developments in the machine learning field. Once a plot device for science-fiction tales, AI is becoming real -- and human beings are going to have to define their relationship with it sooner rather than later. Peter Diamandis, co-founder and vice-chairman at Human Longevity, Inc., touches on that relationship in a post he authored on LinkedIn, titled "The next sexual revolution will be digitized."