Following protests over its partnership with the US military, Google has promised not to use AI for weapons. A decision to provide machine-learning tools to analyze drone footage caused some employees to resign.
As rivals in Silicon Valley and around the world compete for supremacy in self-driving cars, the new rules could set the tone for the deployment of AI far beyond Google, automated assistants, robotics, military AI and other industries.
Google told employees last week it would not renew its contract with the US Department of Defense when it expires next year.
It has now said it will not use AI technology that causes injury to people.
“We recognize that such powerful technology raises equally powerful questions about its use,” Mr. Pichai wrote in a blog post. “As a leader in AI, we feel a special responsibility to get this right.”
In advance, the former CEO laid out seven more principles which he said would guide the design of AI systems in future:
- AI should be socially beneficial
- It should avoid creating or reinforcing bias
- Be built and tested for safety
- Be accountable
- Incorporate privacy design principles
- Uphold high standards of scientific excellence
- Be made available for use
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The ethical principles are a response to a firestorm of employee resignations and public criticism over a Google contract with the US Defence Department for software that could help analyze drone video, which critics argued had nudged the company one step closer to the “business of war.”
When Google revealed that it had signed a contract to share its AI technology with the Pentagon, a number of employees resigned and thousands of others signed a protest petition.
Google, Mr. Pi.chai states, will not pursue the development of AI when it could be used to break international law, cause overall harm or surveil people in violation of “internationally accepted norms of human rights.”
According to Mr. Pi.Chai “The company will, however, continue to work with governments and the military in cybersecurity, training, veterans health care, search and rescue, and military recruitment.”
Google is known for its past “Don’t be evil” mantra – is in the running for two multi-billion dollar US Defence Department contracts for office and cloud services.