Google chief thinks its big AI innovations are best placed in the hands of government regulators —60 Minutes

Last Night, 60 Minutes had an engaging segment about artificial intelligence, its development, and its uses, explaining out how it works and what it might mean for ordinary people.

According to CNBC:

Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said "every product of every company" will be impacted by the quick development of AI, warning that society needs to prepare for technologies like the ones it's already launched.

In an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" aired on Sunday that struck a concerned tone, interviewer Scott Pelley tried several of Google's AI projects and said he was "speechless" and felt it was "unsettling," referring to the human-like capabilities of products like Google's chatbot Bard.

"We need to adapt as a society for it," Pichai told Pelley, adding that jobs that would be disrupted by AI would include "knowledge workers," including writers, accountants, architects and, ironically, even software engineers.

"This is going to impact every product across every company," Pichai said. "For example, you could be a radiologist, if you think about five to ten years from now, you're going to have an AI collaborator with you. You come in the morning, let's say you have a hundred things to go through, it may say, 'these are the most serious cases you need to look at first.'"

They presented some of the top pooh-bahs of Google, with some great footage of the Googleplex in Mountain View, Calif., and a big computer center Google runs in Kansas, and carefully curated personnel who went on camera by what appeared to be rigid affirmative action considerations — one Indian, one black person, one Asian woman, one white woman.  None of those pasty-faced white-male software nerds who are said to be omniscient in the tech world made the cut, until they moved to a brief segment about robots at a distant subsidiary in London.

As the fingerprints of public relations were all over this, none of the segment featured tough 60 Minutes–style questions to Google — whether it was losing its edge in tech, which is what tech people talk about, or whether it was being evil in its leftist manipulation of search results amid all the Twitter revelations, which half the country talks about — let alone any of that obvious affirmative-action staging for the cameras.  There were big, big statements from Scott Pelley such as "propelling humanity into the future," whatever that means.  There were zero tough questions as to why Google was rolling this out in layers, even as Pichai did offer hints about why that was happening — that its A.I. project was making mistakes — papered over with the broader claim that society wouldn't be able to handle all of its power and awesomeness at once.

There were lots of oohs and ahhs.

The Google people featured were all brilliant, showing what appeared to be cutting-edge chops for the emerging field of A.I.  This being a P.R. show, all the Google rivals in this field were dismissed as "startups you've never heard of."

How convenient for Google.

Much as I found the segment fascinating, though, leaning in, not letting anyone flip the channel, paying attention to every word, and yes, being impressed at the brilliance, one statement at the end by Google CEO Sundar Pichai totally took the shine off, exposing the Wizard of Oz as the man behind the curtain: 

Google has launched a document outlining "recommendations for regulating AI," but Pichai said society must quickly adapt with regulation, laws to punish abuse and treaties among nations to make AI safe for the world as well as rules that "Align with human values including morality."

"It's not for a company to decide," Pichai said. "This is why I think the development of this needs to include not just engineers but social scientists, ethicists, philosophers, and so on."

Social scientists?  Ethicists?  Philosophers?  After developing all that impressive technology by their own labor, Pichai wants to hand it over to gut-major wokesters who couldn't write a line of code if they tried, to lord it over and regulate Google?  Because the market cannot do it itself?  And that what Google needs are more government bureaucrats to write rules and regulations for the company's products to keep it on the straight and narrow?  And that government bureaucrats are always benevolent in intention?  And that United Nations sanctions (or stern warnings) in this era of China's threats to Taiwan and Russia's actual invasion of Ukraine are bound to scare every A.I. miscreant straight?

What a worldview that is.  That's not how tech guys used to talk 20 or 30 years ago, back when Google was a startup.  Has Google gone flabby?  What planet does Pichai live on?

If anything, it suggests that Pichai is just a little out of touch, living in a bubble.  If only Google had more regulation from those glorious Washington swamp things, A.I. would not be a problem.

Maybe those claims I keep hearing from the software developer crowd about Google losing its edge are true.  Despite creating an interesting piece about A.I., 60 Minutes missed the story.

Image: Screen shot from 60 Minutes Overtime video via YouTube.

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