It is past time to call out Google for its policy of exclusion and political targeting. The company systematically excludes conservative voices from its platforms.
Though its policies nominally call for inclusion, in practice that is not the case. The triggering incident was a dissolution of Google’s Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC). The motivation to form ATEAC was a criticism of recent business decisions. The decisions related to AI-driven products/research.
Who was involved…
Google, Facebook, Stanford, and others combined to set up institutions in support of ethical AI. Google’s creation of an ATEAC was to shape the “responsible development and use” of AI in its products. The organization was pondering facial recognition, fair machine learning algorithms, and other ethical issues.
The initial council was to be a diverse group covering a range of disciplines and experiences.
ATEAC was to have eight members comprised of academics, policy experts, and executives. It included Luciano Floridi, a philosopher and expert in digital ethics at the University of Oxford; former U.S. deputy secretary of state William Joseph Burns; Dyan Gibbens, CEO of drone maker Trumbull; and Heinz College professor of information technology and public policy Alessandro Acquisti, Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James among others.
Duties and responsibilities…
ATEAC held its first meeting in April. There were plans were for three more over the course of 2019. The company was to publish summaries of its talks. The intent was to spur members to share “generalizable” info. The stated aim was the improvement of the tech industry as a whole.
Google was trying to avoid repeating past mistakes by asking the council to question its decisions. Google’s senior vice president of global affairs Kent Walker in a blog post wrote, “In addition to consulting with the experts on ATEAC, we’ll continue to exchange ideas and gather feedback from partners and organizations around the world.”
Google has unveiled its seven guiding AI Principles. They hypothetically preclude the company from pursuing projects that: (1) aren’t socially beneficial, (2) create or reinforce bias, (3) aren’t built and tested for safety, (4) aren’t “accountable” to people, (5) don’t incorporate privacy design principles, (6) don’t uphold scientific standards, and (7) aren’t made available for uses that accord with all principles.
2,500 Google employees signed a petition to have Ms. James removed from the council. They said, quote, ‘By appointing James to the ATEAC, Google elevates and endorses her views implying that hers is a valid perspective worthy of its inclusion in this decision making, this is unacceptable…’ The petition accused James of being “vocally anti-trans, anti-LGBTQ, and anti-immigrant,” and said, “In selecting James, Google is making clear that its version of ‘ethics’ values proximity to power over the wellbeing of trans people, other LGBTQ people, and immigrants.”
Google acted on the employee petition. In response to the petition, it dissolved the committee. James, who is black, overcame racial discrimination in Virginia as a girl. She eventually became an educator and top state and federal government official. That was before her naming as president of The Heritage Foundation. She had been a trustee for more than a decade before taking the reins.
Google has given in to the mentality of the rage mob. That kind of bias, saying, ‘A conservative African-American woman’s views are not valid and not worthy of inclusion,’ the American people know, Google is silencing voices they disagree with.
Public rationalization by subordinates…
Karan Bhatia, Google’s vice president of government affairs and public policy, a subordinate of Kent Walker, was queried by a congressional sub-committee about the company’s stance. His response was cognitive dissonance.
Mr. Bhatia who has worked at Heritage, a conservative organization, made several points: 2,500 employees do not make up a large percentage of the Google workforce. A number of members of the committee decided to withdraw from the committee. The company pulled the plug on the advisory council because executives didn’t see it going anywhere.
Ms. James in an April op-ed for The Washington Post wrote,
“the Google employees didn’t just attempt to remove me; they greeted the news of my appointment to the council with name-calling and character assassination… They called me anti-immigrant and anti-LGBTQ and a bigot. That was an odd one, because I’m a 69-year-old black woman who grew up fighting segregation…”
Which side are you on? Which side are you on?