Google’s right-wing ‘ethics washing’ flops


This 4 April 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Google has nixed its panel for discussing Artificial Intelligence issues, one week after it was announced.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Nine days after the announcement, Google is already scrapping its advisory board for ethical dilemmas. The idea was that eight experts would advise the corporation on complex issues related to artificial intelligence, such as face recognition. But criticism emerged quickly.

“In the current situation, it has become clear that the council cannot function as we would have liked. That is why we disband the council and go back to the drawing board”, the corporation said in statements to, eg, Reuters and the Financial Times.

There were concerns within and outside of Google about the composition of the council. In particular, the appointment of two members, the president of the conservative organization The Heritage Foundation – Kay Coles James – and the chairman of a [military] drone corporation led to questions. According to opponents, Coles James is against transgender people, against LGB people and against immigrants. …

Jeroen van den Hoven, professor of ethics and technology at the [Dutch] Technical University Delft, called the council a form of ethics washing earlier this week. …

Like there is corporate greenwashing, artwashing, eg by BP oil polluters, pinkwashing, etc.

Last Monday an open letter was published in which Google employees, academics and employees of other tech companies called on the company to remove Coles James from the advisory board. The letter has since been signed by nearly 2,500 people within Google … and another 315 people from outside the corporation.

More criticism

It is the fourth time in a year that Google receives criticism from within and outside its own ranks. That started with a collaboration between the internet giant and the Pentagon, about the analysis of drone images. Google decided to stop this.

After a rebellion by its workers.

5 thoughts on “Google’s right-wing ‘ethics washing’ flops

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