Google CEO calls for regulation of artificial intelligence

In 2018, Google pledged not to use AI in applications related to weapons, surveillance that violates international norms, or that works in ways that go against human rights. (File/AFP)
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Updated 20 January 2020

Google CEO calls for regulation of artificial intelligence

  • Sundar Pichai’s comments come as lawmakers and governments seriously consider putting limits on how artificial intelligence is used
  • Pichai’s comments suggest the company may be hoping to head off a broad-based crackdown by the EU on the technology

LONDON: Google’s chief executive called Monday for a balanced approach to regulating artificial intelligence, telling a European audience that the technology brings benefits but also “negative consequences.”

Sundar Pichai’s comments come as lawmakers and governments seriously consider putting limits on how artificial intelligence is used.

“There is no question in my mind that artificial intelligence needs to be regulated. The question is how best to approach this,” Pichai said, according to a transcript of his speech at a Brussel-based think tank.

He noted that there’s an important role for governments to play and that as the European Union and the US start drawing up their own approaches to regulation, “international alignment” of any eventual rules will be critical. He did not provide specific proposals.

Pichai spoke on the same day he was scheduled to meet the EU’s powerful competition regulator, Margrethe Vestager.

Vestager has in previous years hit the Silicon Valley giant with multibillion-dollar fines for allegedly abusing its market dominance to choke off competition. After being reappointed for a second term last autumn with expanded powers over digital technology policies, Vestager has now set her sights on artificial intelligence, and is drawing up rules on its ethical use.

Pichai’s comments suggest the company may be hoping to head off a broad-based crackdown by the EU on the technology. Vestager and the EU have been the among the more aggressive regulators of big tech firms, an approach US authorities have picked up with investigations into the dominance of companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.

“Sensible regulation must also take a proportionate approach, balancing potential harms with social opportunities,” he said, adding that it could incorporate existing standards like Europe’s tough General Data Protection Regulation rather than starting from scratch.

While it promises big benefits, he raised concerns about potential downsides of artificial intelligence, citing as one example its role in facial recognition technology, which can be used to find missing people but also for “nefarious reasons” which he didn’t specify.

In 2018, Google pledged not to use AI in applications related to weapons, surveillance that violates international norms, or that works in ways that go against human rights.


News Corp. Australia’s push for digitization to lead to job losses

Updated 28 May 2020

News Corp. Australia’s push for digitization to lead to job losses

News Corp. Australia said it would restructure its organization to focus on digital publishing, a move that will also lead to job losses.
Scores of regional and community titles will be published only digitally from June 29 under the reorganization, the Australian arm of the mass media and publishing firm News Corp. said in a statement on Wednesday.
The company did not specify how many jobs could be lost, but Australian media reported up to 1,000 staff could be axed as a result of the restructuring.
It said its print publications had become unsustainable amid the coronavirus pandemic and the loss of revenue to digital platforms that use its content without payment.
“To meet these changing trends, we are reshaping News Corp. Australia to focus on where consumers and businesses are moving and to strengthen our position as Australia’s leading digital news media company,” News Corp. Australasia Executive Chairman Michael Miller said.
News Corp. incurred an impairment charge of $1.1 billion in the third quarter ended March 31, primarily related to a write-down at its struggling Australian pay television unit, Foxtel.