The work in the lab will focus on a discipline within artificial intelligence known as machine learning, in which computers learn from existing information and develop the ability to draw conclusions and make decisions in new situations that were not in the original data. Examples include speech recognition systems that transcribe a wide spectrum of voices, and self-driving cars that process complex visual cues. In particular, the work will build on recent advances by Hazan, Singer and colleagues in optimization methods for machine learning to improve their speed and accuracy while reducing the required computing power.
In the past year, Google executives, citing ethical concerns, have canceled an artificial-intelligence project with the Pentagon and refused to even bid on the Defense Department’s Project JEDI, a desperately needed $10 billion IT-improvement program. While stiff-arming Washington, Google has been embracing Beijing, helping the Chinese government develop a more effective censored search engine despite outcries from human-rights groups, American politicians, and, more recently, its own employees.
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“The point at which it becomes a matter of serious public interest is when your communication vehicle is being used to promote propaganda that leads to violent events.” He was alluding to the Pizzagate conspiracy theory which led to an armed gunman showing up at a DC-area pizzeria in 2016 — a conspiracy theory spread, in part, on YouTube.
Raskin asked about another especially strange conspiracy theory that emerged on YouTube — “Frazzledrip,” which has deep ties to the QAnon and Pizzagate conspiracy theories. He asked Pichai, “Is your basic position that [Frazzledrip] is something you want to try to do something about, but basically there is just an avalanche of such material and there’s really nothing that can be done, and it should be buyer beware or consumer beware when you go on YouTube?” adding, “Are you taking the threats seriously?