Google seeks to make artificial intelligence more people-friendly

Google is grappling with how to make sure artificial intelligence benefits humans more than it hinders them, as the powerful new technology starts to permeate all of its services. The internet company on Monday announced a research initiative aimed at finding ways to put people at the centre of AI development, from giving engineers better tools to control the technology to making sure ordinary people are not put at a disadvantage by decisions coming from intelligent machines. The idea “grew out of a set of questions that started to emerge in various corners of Google about human/AI interaction”, said Fernanda Viégas, one of the researchers behind the plan. Google’s growing awareness of the potential downside of AI reflects a broader concern in the tech world that the methods companies have used to build new products in the past might not be adequate to control the new technology. Incomplete or distorted data used to train AI systems, for instance, could result in biased “thinking” by the machines, and it is difficult to subject the algorithms they employ to outside scrutiny. Even when AI systems work effectively, they risk embedding views of the world that put some groups of people at a…


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