Speaking of tech-academia dalliances: Here’s Rodrigo Ochigame’s powerful and fine-grained account of big tech’s cynical embrace “ethical AI” and academics like MIT Media Lab’s former head Joi Ito:
Silicon Valley’s vigorous promotion of “ethical AI” has constituted a strategic lobbying effort, one that has enrolled academia to legitimize itself. Ito played a key role in this corporate-academic fraternizing, meeting regularly with tech executives.
It’s a story of idea laundering, PR, and regulation avoidance, told with exceptional detail by an insider. (Ochigame was a grad student on the MIT ethical AI project). It includes a nice run-down of industry-academic ties:
… the Data & Society Research Institute is directed by a Microsoft researcher and initially funded by a Microsoft grant; New York University’s AI Now Institute was co-founded by another Microsoft researcher and partially funded by Microsoft, Google, and DeepMind; the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI is co-directed by a former vice president of Google; University of California, Berkeley’s Division of Data Sciences is headed by a Microsoft veteran; and the MIT Schwarzman College of Computing is headed by a board member of Amazon.
The last thing we need is more collaborations with tech companies.