An update on our work on AI and responsible innovation


Review process 

As we’ve shared previously, Google has a central, dedicated team that reviews proposals for AI research and applications for alignment with our principles. Operationalizing the AI Principles is challenging work. Our review process is iterative, and we continue to refine and improve our assessments as advanced technologies emerge and evolve. The team also consults with internal domain experts in machine-learning fairness, security, privacy, human rights, and other areas. 

Whenever relevant, we conduct additional expert human rights assessments of new products in our review process, before launch. For example, we enlisted the nonprofit organization BSR (Business for Social Responsibility) to conduct a formal human rights assessment of the new Celebrity Recognition tool, offered within Google Cloud Vision and Video Intelligence products. BSR applied the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a framework to guide the product team to consider the product’s implications across people’s privacy and freedom of expression, as well as potential harms that could result, such as discrimination. This assessment informed not only the product’s design, but also the policies around its use. 

In addition, because any robust evaluation of AI needs to consider not just technical methods but also social context(s), we consult a wider spectrum of perspectives to inform our AI review process, including social scientists and Google’s employee resource groups.

As one example, consider how we’ve built upon learnings from a case we published in our last AI Principles update: the review of academic research on text-to-speech (TTS) technology. Since then, we have applied what we learned in that earlier review to establish a Google-wide approach to TTS. Google Cloud’s Text-to-Speech service, used in products such as Google Lens, puts this approach into practice.

Because TTS could be used across a variety of products, a group of senior Google technical and business leads were consulted. They considered the proposal against our AI Principles of being socially beneficial and accountable to people, as well as the need to incorporate privacy by design and avoiding technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm.

  • Reviewers identified the benefits of an improved user interface for various products, and significant accessibility benefits for people with hearing impairments. 

  • They considered the risks of voice mimicry and impersonation, media manipulation, and defamation.

  • They took into account how an AI model is used, and recognized the importance of adding layers of barriers for potential bad actors, to make harmful outcomes less likely.

  • They recommended on-device privacy and security precautions that serve as barriers to misuse, reducing the risk of overall harm from use of TTS technology for nefarious purposes.