Google appoints ‘transphobic’ conservative to AI ethics board

Google has come under fire for appointing a conservative ex-White House staffer, Kay Coles James, to its new artificial intelligence (AI) ethics board.

James is one of eight members set to join Google’s new external advisory board, which the search giant says will “help advance the responsible development of AI.”

“This group will consider some of Google’s most complex challenges that arise under our AI principles, like facial recognition and fairness in machine learning, providing diverse perspectives to inform our work,” said Google’s vice president of global affairs, Kent Walker, in a statement published on Tuesday (March 26).

Twitter users immediately took Google to task over James’ place on the panel, noting that she has previously expressed anti-trans views on the social network.

Donald Trump sat next to Kay Coles James

Donald Trump meets with Kay Coles James (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

One person wrote: “Hey @Google exactly what do you hope to get out of a responsibility advisor who hates trans people, foreigners, and the environment, just wondering.”

Another person reacted: “Ummm, really ? You’re appointing someone to advise you on “responsibility” who heads one of the most disgustingly homophobic, transphobic, anti- organizations in the country?”

Another Twitter user commented: “I don’t want libertarian values driving AI policy. Also, unfortunately has made deeply transphobic comments publicly.”

Just last week, on March 21, James tweeted that the US Equality Act “would open every female bathroom and sports team to biological males.”

A day earlier, speaking about the UN Commission on the Status of Women, she wrote: “If they can change the definition of women to include men, they can erase efforts to empower women economically, socially, and politically.”

Google AI board member chimes in

Joanna J Bryson, another member of Google’s AI ethics board, tweeted in response to a question about James: “Believe it or not, I know worse about one of the other people.”

She added: “I know that I have pushed [Google] before on some of their associations, and they say they need diversity in order to be convincing to society broadly, e.g. the GOP.”

“Believe it or not, I know worse about one of the other people.”

— Joanna J Bryson, member of Google’s AI ethics board

James is president of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank in Washington DC.

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