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Google CEO Sundar Pichai on Tech: ‘Deep Responsibility to get This Right’

Have responsibility for getting things right in tech: Sundar Pichai

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Google CEO Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai. (Wikimedia Commons)
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Amid a global call to regulate digital platforms and safeguard users’ data privacy, Google’s Indian-born CEO Sundar Pichai has reiterated that the tech companies have a “deep responsibility to get things right”.

Kicking off the annual “Google I/O” developer conference at its Mountain View campus in California on Tuesday, Pichai said we’re at an important inflection point in computing, and it’s exciting to be driving technology forward.

“But it’s clear that we cannot just be wide-eyed about what we create. There are very real and important questions being raised about the impact of technology and the role it will play in our lives,” Pichai told the gathering of over 7,000 developers.

Also Read: Google Assistant Now Lets You Easily buy Movie Tickets

“We know the path ahead needs to be navigated carefully and deliberately — and we feel a deep sense of responsibility to get this right,” Pichai added.

Pichai’s call came after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Monday stressed that the company is determined to ensure users’ data and is building secure solutions towards preserving data privacy.

“We have the responsibility to ensure that the new-age technology is empowering everyone, creating equitable growth for all while creating employment on the global scale,” Nadella said at the annual Microsoft “Build 2018” developers’ conference.

Google.
Google. Pixabay

Echoing Nadella, the Google CEO said that “the need for useful and accessible information is as urgent today as it was when Google was founded nearly two decades ago”.

“What’s changed is our ability to organise information and solve complex, real-world problems thanks to advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI),” he added.

Betting big on AI, Pichai said there’s a huge opportunity for this technology to transform many fields.

“Already we’re seeing some encouraging applications in healthcare. We’ve also found that our AI models are able to predict medical events, such as hospital readmissions and length of stays, by analyzing the pieces of information embedded in de-identified health records,” he said.

“Another area where AI can solve important problems is accessibility,” he added.

During an earnings call in April, Pichai said that Google was ready for the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to harmonise data privacy laws that would come into effect on May 25.

Also Read: Google May Launch New Set of Controls at Google I/O

After four years of debate, the GDPR was finally approved by the EU Parliament on April 14, 2016. Organisations that fail to comply with the new regulation may face hefty fines.

In a blog, Google said it was informing advertisers and publisher partners about changes to its ad policies.

“Google already requires publishers and advertisers using our advertising services to get consent from end users to use our services, as required under existing EU law. However, the GDPR will further refine these requirements,” the post added.

“To comply, we will be updating our EU consent policy when the GDPR takes effect and the revised policy will require that publishers take extra steps in obtaining consent from their users,” it added. (IANS)

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Google Is Run Without Any Political Bias: Sundar Pichai

Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010 after China insisted on censoring search results.

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Sundar Pichai
Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee hearing "examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices" on Capitol Hill in Washington. VOA

Google CEO Sundar Pichai insisted Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee that he runs the U.S. technology giant without political preference.

“We find that we have a wide variety of sources, including sources from the left and sources from the right. And we are committed to making sure there are diverse perspectives,” Pichai told the panel.

Pichai defended the company after accusations from Republican lawmakers that Google has developed online search algorithms to suppress conservative voices.

“There are numerous allegations in the news that Google employees have thought about doing this, talked about doing this and have done it,” Republican committee chairman Robert Goodlatte said.

Google, Sundar Pichai
A demonstrator holds up a sign in the doorway as Google CEO Sundar Pichai testifies at a House Judiciary Committee on greater transparency in Washington. VOA

Republican Congressman Lamar Smith cited a study by P.J. Media that concluded 96 percent of Google’s search results for President Donald Trump were from “liberal media outlets.”

“In fact, not a single right-leaning site appeared on the first page of search results. This doesn’t happen by accident but is baked into the algorithms. Those who write the algorithms get the results they must want and apparently management allows it.”

Smith also cited a study by “Harvard-trained psychologist” Robert Epstein that said Google’s alleged bias “likely swung” more than 2.5 million votes to Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

“Google could well elect the next president with dire implications for our democracy,” Smith added.

Sundar Pichai, USA
Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., the top Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, arrives for the testimony of Google CEO Sundar Pichai about the internet giant’s privacy security and data collection, on Capitol Hill in Washington, VOA

“I lead this company without political bias and work to ensure that our products continue to operate that way,” Pichai said. “To do otherwise would go against our core principles and our business interests.”

Top committee Democrat Jerry Nadler said Republican accusations of bias is “a completely illegitimate issue, which is the fantasy dreamed up by some conservatives that Google and other online platforms have an anti-conservative bias. As I’ve said repeatedly, no credible evidence supports this right-wing conspiracy theory.”

President Donald Trump is among those who have accused the company of censoring conservative content, tweeting in August that Google is “RIGGED” and that “Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out.”

‘Dragonfly’ project

Pichai’s testimony came after he angered committee members in September by declining an invitation to testify about manipulation of online services by foreign governments to influence U.S. elections.

Google, Australia, encryption, Sundar pichai
A smartphone and computer screen display the Google home page. Australia is one step closer to forcing tech firms to give police access to encrypted data. VOA

The CEO was also questioned about the company’s planned “Dragonfly” project, a censored search engine for China and “next generation technology” that Congressman Smith said Google is “developing on Chinese soil.”

“This news raises a troubling possibility, that Google is being used to strengthen China’s system of surveillance, repression and control,” Smith said. “We need to know that Google is on the side of the free world, and that it will provide its services free of anti-competitive behavior, political bias and censorship.”

An international group of 60 human rights and media groups submitted a letter Tuesday to Pichai, calling on him to abandon the project, warning that personal data would not be safe from Chinese authorities.

Also Read: Australia Proposes To Strengthen Regulations of Facebook, Google

Reporters Without Borders, a signatory to the letter, said China ranked 176 out of 180 countries in its Freedom of the Press Index.

Google shut down its search engine in China in 2010 after China insisted on censoring search results. (VOA)