: I ran out of analogies for Google’s growing list of AI ethics blunders. In February, AI Chief Jeff Dean said his team should have managed the Timnit Gebru firing “with more sensitivity,” and then simultaneously fired her counterpart Margaret Mitchell. I described that as Google plowing a rescue helicopter into its AI ethics train wreck
. This week, the company said
that in the coming years, it plans to double the size of its team studying AI ethics. That sounds good, until you learn how the news was rolled out. Google VP of Engineering Marian Croak, who took over after the firings of Gebru and Mitchell, made the announcement at a WSJ event, failed to tell the responsible AI team first, and revealed that the main motivation is really PR. “Being responsible in the way that you develop and deploy AI technology is fundamental to the good of the business,” Croak said. “It severely damages the brand if things aren’t done in an ethical way.” Google is investing in AI ethics not because it cares about the various ramifications of the technology, but because it sees dollar signs. Furthermore, it’s doubling down on that investment for PR reasons. Both are the company’s prerogative, of course, as is Croak’s apparent
decision not to communicate plans of expanding the responsible AI team to people on the responsible AI team. OK Google, good luck filling those roles.
- SpaceX signed a deal with Google Cloud for its satellite internet service that will put Starlink terminals in Google’s cloud data centers around the world. Later this year, Starlink customers will be able to use Google Cloud features while Google’s enterprise cloud customers will be able to use Starlink’s satellite internet. The deal isn’t as out-of-the-blue as it might seem: To date, Google has invested $900 million into Starlink manufacturing and other SpaceX tech.
- Italy’s antitrust watchdog fined Google €100 million for abusing its dominant market position by restricting third-party access to the Android Auto app. Meanwhile, Sonos said a German court had granted a preliminary injunction that could force Google to halt sales of its media players, phones, and smart speakers in the country. Both cases sound major but at Google scale they are dismissible headaches.
- YouTube announced the YouTube Shorts Fund, which will pay $100 million to top creators on YouTube Shorts, the company’s TikTok ripoff, through 2022. It’s a big sum, but not the biggest; Snap’s Spotlight, for example, pays out $1 million every day to Snapchat users that make the best Snaps. YouTube’s fund will start doling out the dough across the U.S. (home turf) and India (where TikTok is banned) in the next few months.