Rules for A.I. will need to evolve as fast as the technology
In yesterday’s Big Revolution
, I wrote about how tech companies should put a set of values ahead of everything else early on because playing catchup later can be a messy business.
While Google has had to go through some internal and external debate about its A.I. contract with the US military, it’s recovered the situation well with a new set of principles
that will guide its future work with artificial intelligence.
According to the principles, A.I. should: be socially beneficial; avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias; be built and tested for safety; be accountable to people; incorporate privacy design principles; uphold high standards of scientific excellence, and be made available for uses that accord with these principles.
This is a good base to start from, but it would be easy for these principles to be twisted or interpreted differently by future Googlers with different priorities. So, it’s encouraging that the company also detailed ways its A.I. won’t be used.
Banned uses are: technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm; weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people; technologies that gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms, and technologies whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.
It’s encouraging to see a list like this set out in clear detail, and in a potentially dangerous field like A.I., it’s reassuring, too.
One word of warning though: it’s impossible to predict how the world – and Google – might change in the future to make these guidelines moot. In a world of rapidly evolving technology, rules like these need to evolve too. But a ‘value compass’ that helps shape those rules shouldn’t need to change anywhere near as often.
Disclaimer: I’m currently working as an external assessor with Google’s DNI Fund, but don’t take my opinion above as anything like an official comment on anything the company is doing.