Google is seeking to firm up its ethical guidelines for the development of AI with the publication of a new framework designed to shape its advances in the field.
The decision follows Google’s abrupt withdrawal from a drone contract with the US Department of Defense amidst an internal backlash against the internet giant’s involvement in military projects.
Google and its parent firm Alphabet have come under sustained criticism for their failure to embrace full transparency in how they develop AI, with critics pointing to its Waymo driverless car unit and the secrecy surrounding how AI behaves when lives are at stake.
Google’s journey toward ethical AI began four years ago when it acquired AI specialists DeepMind when it first acknowledged the need to build strong ethical rules. Since then progress has been slow with DeepMind failing to progress its ethical thinking further. The company did publish a research initiative late last year.
This saw Google address some of the most profound issues arising from AI development for the first time by drawing together academics, technologists and charities to help guide future development.
Former Google chief Eric Schmidt has long evangelised AI as a tool for making humanity smarter, dismissing the concern of Elon Musk that development was comparable to 'summoning the demon'.