The letter opposing Schmidt's appearance points to public statements in which he was dismissive of employee complaints over a now canceled Google project that tested a search engine designed to comply with Chinese internet censorship . Schmidt told the BBC he always opposed the company’s decision to pull out of China in 2010, in the belief that Google’s services could help the country become more open. The protest letter also refers to a report by ProPublica last month that a Pentagon official tasked with policing conflicts of interest, Roma Laster, was sidelined after raising concerns about Schmidt’s conduct as chair of the department’s Defense Innovation Board . Schmidt was Google's CEO from 2001 to 2011 , then chairman of the company and its recently created parent Alphabet through 2017 .The demand that Schmidt be disinvited from Stanford originated with Jack Poulson, who resigned as a Google researcher last year in protest of the China search project. Prior to joining Google he was an assistant professor of mathematics at Stanford. Last week, Poulson was invited to appear on a panel at Stanford’s AI Ethics, Policy, and Governance conference in October. But he became alarmed when he learned Schmidt was to speak in the opening session.
The latest on artificial intelligence , from machine learning to computer vision and morePoulson wrote the letter, gathered signatures from sympathizers, and sent it to Stanford professors Fei-Fei Li and John Etchemendy. The pair this year cofounded the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence to help ensure advances in AI don’t hurt people or society by destroying jobs or creating new forms of discrimination.Li, a high-profile machine learning researcher , worked at Google in 2017 and 2018. She became embroiled in controversy over the company’s work on the Pentagon’s Project Maven , which employed Google AI technology to analyze drone footage.
Thousands of Google employees protested the contract, saying the company should not develop warfare technology. In May last year, the New York Times published extracts from emails between Li and other executives that showed her calling the project a “big win” but suggesting Google hide the fact it involved AI to avoid public backlash.Soon after, Google announced it would not renew the contract, which was due to expire in March this year, and released guidelines for its AI technology . They forbid work on weapons, but allow collaborations with the military.
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