No Longer Liveblogging Sidewalk Labs’ MIDP, Addendum #1: An odd choice of evaluator

Could someone please explain to me how hiring a for-profit AI company to evaluate a potential future competitor/customer’s use of AI doesn’t present an obvious conflict of interest?

Josh O’Kane, Globe and Mail: Waterfront Toronto taps Montreal’s Element AI for human-rights review on Sidewalk Labs plan: “Waterfront Toronto has hired Montreal startup Element AI Inc. to help review the human-rights impact of Google affiliate Sidewalk Labs’ draft plan for a smart-city development on the shores of Lake Ontario. Element is a prominent artificial-intelligence company and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars in venture financing, developing AI-powered tools for and consulting with businesses worldwide.”

Beyond what seems to me to be the obvious commercial conflict of interest, there’s the problem of perspective. A for-profit AI company’s starting point in this debate is likely to be very different than that of a group whose existence doesn’t depend on big-data collection. Starting with the question, “How can we make this system work best?” rather than, “Should we be doing this at all?” will lead you down very different paths, potentially toward very different conclusions.

As with everything else Quayside, this is not what sound governance looks like.

Previous Master Innovation and Development Plan liveblog entries and relevant documents available here

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