Google told its scientists to ‘strike a positive tone’ in AI research – documents

OAKLAND, Calif. (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google this year moved to tighten control over its scientists’ papers by launching a “sensitive topics” review, and in at least three cases requested authors refrain from casting its technology in a negative light, according to internal communications and interviews with researchers involved in the work.
Google’s new review procedure asks that researchers consult with legal, policy and public relations teams before pursuing topics such as face and sentiment analysis and categorizations of race, gender or political affiliation, according to internal webpages explaining the policy.

“Advances in technology and the growing complexity of our external environment are increasingly leading to situations where seemingly inoffensive projects raise ethical, reputational, regulatory or legal issues,” one of the pages for research staff stated. Reuters could not determine the date of the post, though three current employees said the policy began in June.

Google declined to comment for this story.

The “sensitive topics” process adds a round of scrutiny to Google’s standard review of papers for pitfalls such as disclosing of trade secrets, eight current and former employees said.

For some projects, Google officials have intervened in later stages. A senior Google manager reviewing a study on content recommendation technology shortly before publication this summer told authors to “take great care to strike a positive tone,” according to internal correspondence read to Reuters.

The manager added, “This doesn’t mean we should hide from the real challenges” posed by the software.

Subsequent correspondence from a researcher to reviewers shows authors “updated to remove all references to Google products.” A draft seen by Reuters had mentioned Google-owned YouTube.

Four staff researchers, including senior scientist Margaret Mitchell, said they believe Google is starting to interfere with crucial studies of potential technology harms.

“If we are researching the appropriate thing given our expertise, and we are not permitted to publish that on grounds that are not in line with high-quality peer review, then we’re getting into a serious problem of censorship,” Mitchell said.

Google states on its public-facing website that its scientists have “substantial” freedom.

Tensions between Google and some of its staff broke into view this month after the abrupt exit of scientist Timnit Gebru, who led a 12-person team with Mitchell focused on ethics in artificial intelligence software (AI).

Gebru says Google fired her after she questioned an order not to publish research claiming AI that mimics speech could disadvantage marginalized populations. Google said it accepted and expedited her resignation. It could not be determined whether Gebru’s paper underwent a “sensitive topics” review.


۴ comments On Google told its scientists to ‘strike a positive tone’ in AI research – documents

  • I just wanted to construct a small note so as to say thanks to you for the wonderful ideas you are showing at this site. My time-consuming internet research has at the end been recognized with brilliant content to write about with my two friends. I ‘d repeat that many of us readers are unquestionably lucky to live in a very good place with many perfect people with valuable solutions. I feel very lucky to have encountered the web pages and look forward to some more fun minutes reading here. Thanks a lot once again for a lot of things.

  • I would like to convey my respect for your generosity supporting folks that must have guidance on this important concern. Your personal dedication to passing the message throughout was wonderfully advantageous and has in most cases allowed some individuals just like me to get to their dreams. This invaluable help means this much to me and far more to my office workers. Thank you; from each one of us.

  • I simply desired to thank you so much again. I’m not certain what I could possibly have done without the entire opinions provided by you regarding such a situation. It had been a very challenging situation in my position, but viewing the very specialised manner you resolved it took me to cry over happiness. I’m just happier for the guidance and thus expect you find out what a powerful job that you’re doing educating some other people through your blog post. I am sure you haven’t got to know any of us.

  • I have to express my appreciation to this writer just for bailing me out of this particular setting. Right after checking through the internet and obtaining principles which are not pleasant, I was thinking my entire life was gone. Being alive without the presence of answers to the difficulties you have fixed as a result of this website is a crucial case, and ones that might have negatively affected my career if I had not noticed your web page. Your knowledge and kindness in maneuvering everything was valuable. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come across such a point like this. I am able to at this time relish my future. Thanks for your time so much for this specialized and amazing help. I won’t think twice to recommend your web blog to any person who needs guidance on this topic.

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.

Sliding Sidebar