Should We Be Worried About Google’s AI Development?

Google are opening a new centre for Artificial Intelligence in Ghana as they look to develop the technology further. But should we be worried about these advances?

Google have photographed the entire world from space in enough detail to zoom in on individual people. They have also mapped all the world’s major roads with 360 pictures in Google Street View. They really do hold a phenomenal amount of data, and with great data comes great responsibility, especially post Cambridge Analytica.

With this in mind, should we be concerned about Google’s ever increasing focus on AI? 

Photo by Ilya Pavlov

Artificial future

The CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, said in a recent press conference that “AI is one of the most important things that humanity is working on”. He claimed that AI is “more profound than, I don’t know, electricity or fire.”

This sounds incredibly exciting of course. The AI revolution is coming whether we like it or not, and perhaps it’s not all that bad. Google has promised that it will only pursue AI technology that is “socially beneficial” and “built and tested for safety”. They said that they would “proceed only where we believe that the benefits substantially outweigh the risks”.

In 2016, the tech firm spent somewhere in the region of 20-30 million dollars purely on its artificial intelligence development, with ‘machine learning’ right at the forefront.

Jeff Dean and Moustapha Cisse, who are both researchers for Google, said that “we’re excited to combine our research interests in AI and machine learning and our experience in Africa to push the boundaries of AI while solving challenges in areas such as health care, agriculture, and education,”

Photo via Wiki

Highly advanced weaponry

Google have come under criticism for their agreement with America’s Department of Defence (DoD) to make drone striking more ‘accurate’ by using their technology to analyse military images. Many Google employees have signed a petition in protest of this agreement. 12 have actually resigned.

Since the attacks on the World Trade Centre in 2001, America has lead various drone strike campaigns in an effort to quell the threat of terror. These drones have killed thousands of civilians and the potential marrying of this lethal firepower and Google’s technological prowess could prove a devastating combination.

The Independent reported that Google’s tech “has already been used in the field to survey areas held by Isis in the Middle East but Google stresses the technology is being deployed for “non-offensive uses only.”

In a statement, Google have said that “We’re actively discussing this important topic internally and with others as we continue to develop policies and safeguards around the development and use of our machine learning technologies.”

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