back to article Googlers, eggheads urge web giant's bosses to kick top conservative off its AI ethics council

Over a thousand Google employees and members of the machine-learning community have signed a petition urging the ad giant to remove Kay Coles James, president of conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, from its external AI ethics board. Last week, Google announced the launch of the Advanced Technology External …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Closed minds perhaps?

    The best way to change things and also to give guidance is to be a part of something like this and not walk away. In past (and the very recent past) people have declined being on committees or even voting. Then turn around complain loudly when the committee does something they don't like. If they had stayed on it, things might have turned out differently.

    There's an old saying that applies: "If you don't vote or participate, you have no authority to criticize." The behavior we see lately where people decline participating in advisory committees, government, etc. is part of the reason the US is becoming polarized. No conversations other than screaming at each other. No give and take in negotiations. Very sad to me to see the way things are going.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Closed minds perhaps?

      Sadly, this is only true if both sides are willing to listen and be flexible. Heritage is one of those organizations set up by extraordinarily wealthy, politically far right (not unfair to suggest they're Fascists) to infiltrate government and religious organizations to push their particular extremist agenda. It is extremely difficult, impossible, to have meaningful dialog with people who believe this ideology or will take money to promote this ideology.

      1. iron Silver badge

        Re: Closed minds perhaps? @AC

        And, by closing your mind you are as bad as they are. You don't influence people by behaving like them, you influence them by showing them a better example.

      2. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Closed minds perhaps?

        . . . I take it that this is a parody?

        "We should have a dialog, but only if it excludes everybody we disagree with." Which is actually bigotry, according to the very definition of the term. (bigotry: extreme intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own)

        If you have a dozen people on an ethics council, then one of them having a different opinion formed through different life experiences is not harmful. In fact, it's rather helpful. Having a group of people with the same experiences would tend to make it an exercise in groupthink, which would make it pointless.

        1. BigSLitleP

          Re: Closed minds perhaps?

          " We are setting up a new committee to talk about why so many black men are being shot by police. We need to balance opinions, so half the committee will be members of the KKK"

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Closed minds perhaps?

            I suppose it's much easier to bash a strawman than engage in debate?

            Staffing any committee with half of it's members from the same activist group is always going to be an act of futility because they'll all parrot the same things. This is my point; you need a diverse group of people with different life experiences.

            1. BigSLitleP

              Re: Closed minds perhaps?

              Strawman aside, it's hard to debate with someone that refuses to see your point of view, regardless of the evidence. That's kind of the point......

              Members of the Heritage Foundation don't believe in ethics. It would be like having a flat earther on a NASA panel. They aren't going to bring anything useful to the party, they are just going to argue against anything that might hurt their bank balance or be against their "Christian values".

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Closed minds perhaps?

            " We are setting up a new committee to talk about why so many black men are being shot by police. We need to balance opinions, so half the committee will be members of the KKK"

            You have created a strawman argument - "we need balance, therefore 50% of the committee members must be KKK" when that is clearly not balanced or reflective of society at large. At least in the majority of locations given Wiki indicates that there are only an estimated 18,000 members in the US out of a population of 327m.

            Balance would be looking at wider US society, saying that far right opinion accounts for 6% (again according to Wiki for the US), and having 1 member in a committee of 15 in order to be representative.

            Make at least some of the committee meetings open to the public and publish meeting notes, maybe even stream meetings and you have openness and transparency to (largely) avoid suggestions that the committee isn't representative.

            (assuming representative, transparency etc is something that is desired...)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Words are violence you guys!

    Also I'm afraid of my own shadow...because it misrepresents my identification as a fluffy bunny.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      i don't have a problem

      So you can't have a problem.

  3. Claverhouse Silver badge

    Referring to men as men must always be unacceptable. Same as saying meat is dead animal, electricity can kill, and the sun is hot. If people don't believe in traditional things it is unprogressively wrong not to acquiesce with them.

    Like any sane person I think the Heritage Foundation, like all Yank think tanks, [ and our's for that matter ] is pretty vile, but that's no reason for their voices to be silenced, any more than trotskyist or anarchist voices should be unheard.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Precisely. In the name of freedom she should be silenced. We must all think the same, all talk the same and no-one should allowed to dissent.

      It does remind me of life in Soviet times, be quick to embrace the new thinking but not too loudly as the new thinking can quickly become old and you'll get caught up in the cull this time.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    AI

    By definition, religious views have zero relevance to AI *

    * This argument can also be extended to human intelligence.

    1. phuzz Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: AI

      Until some religious nutjob decides that your AI project is somehow blasphemous and tries to blow you up.

      Rationally AI and religion don't have much relevance, but the trouble is religious people aren't rational.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: AI

        Rationally AI and religion don't have much relevance, but the trouble is religious people aren't rational.

        You know, once upon a time it was said that a sign of a first-rate intelligence was the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time.

        In this case, you personally don't find people holding a belief in a religion to be rational by your standards of rationality, because you do not believe their god exists and insist on then processing their likely behavior from your own perspective, rather than considering their perspective from their perspective.

        If hypothetically speaking their god did exist then it would mean that heaven and hell also existed, and what would be rational to somebody believing that if they do (or fail to do) X then their soul will be dammed to hell and therefore exist burning in hell in agony for all of eternity might, maybe be somewhat different to somebody who did not believe that and believes that there is no consequence to their actions beyond what happens on our mortal plane of existence.

        It's not that they aren't rational, in fact people believing in a religion can be very rational. As a point of fact, the entire foundation of our science and governments in the enlightenment was created by people who believed quite deeply in religion, so to believe that people believing in religion are irrational is in itself irrational from an objective viewpoint.

        You can consider and evaluate an idea without agreeing with it, you know. Personally, I don't believe in the existence of a god, but an absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. My belief in the lack of a god is about as rationally valid as their belief in the existence of a god so rationally one shouldn't climb up on a high horse and consider themselves better than somebody who has differing beliefs. Believing in one or the other certainly doesn't make you more rational.

        1. BigSLitleP

          Re: AI

          I'm sorry but my belief is that most of what you said is pointless drivel.

          Your whole premise is based on the fact that you can't disprove a negative. As a wise man once pointed out "Throughout history, every mystery ever solved has turned out to be NOT MAGIC." As another one pointed out, religion is being dwindled to the point of being known as "the god of the gaps".

          As evidence piles up more and more on the side of plate that is no god, it does become less and less rational to try to force people (and religious people are required to force people) to follow any given deity. Gravity hasn't been proven but i'm fairly sure that anyone stating it doesn't exist would be classed as irrational.

          Although you can consider and evaluate an idea without agreeing with it, you're ability to consider and evaluate it fairly drop away dramatically.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: AI

            Your whole premise is based on the fact that you can't disprove a negative. As a wise man once pointed out "Throughout history, every mystery ever solved has turned out to be NOT MAGIC." As another one pointed out, religion is being dwindled to the point of being known as "the god of the gaps".

            Nope. My premise is about rationality. Simply, just because somebody has a different rationale for doing something to you doesn't make them irrational. If they have an internally logical reason for doing something then it's still rational, according to the dictionary definition of the term.

            In order to be rational, you simply need to be capable of reason. You don't need to come to the same end result.

            Imagine the following situation. Somebody comes across an opportunity that would be extremely advantageous for the individual, at the cost of breaking a rule, but with zero possibility of getting caught.

            A non religious person might rationally consider they stand no chance of getting caught and is more likely to take the opportunity, knowing that they won't get caught.

            A religious person who actually believes in an omnipotent all knowing, all seeing God might decide that while they wouldn't get caught by any mortal on this plane of existence that their God would know and might/would punish them on this plane of existence, or worse on the next plane of existence by refusing them entry to heaven and letting them burn in hell for all of eternity. Upon that basis, the purely rational basis of "is it worth it" skews the possibility of getting caught from "not a chance in hell" to "it's a certainty that I will end up in hell". Hence, that skews the result of a logical calculation of risk and the outcome might look like:-

            1) Non religious person takes the opportunity.

            2) Religious person does not take the opportunity.

            And both people would be making rational decisions, in that they have logically considered the situation and made a decision on the basis of that.

            Although you can consider and evaluate an idea without agreeing with it, you're ability to consider and evaluate it fairly drop away dramatically.

            Eh?

            Personally, I evaluate an idea first and then decide if I agree with it or not based on that evaluation. Only an utterly irrational bigoted fanatic could possibly decide if they agree or disagree with an idea before actually considering it?

        2. cornetman Silver badge

          Re: AI

          > It's not that they aren't rational, in fact people believing in a religion can be very rational. As a point of fact, the entire foundation of our science and governments in the enlightenment was created by people who believed quite deeply in religion, so to believe that people believing in religion are irrational is in itself irrational from an objective viewpoint.

          In my mind that just elevates those people substantially in my estimation.

          To pursue what is rational in spite of the dogmatic beliefs they were indoctrinated with is an analytical mindset we should all aspire to.

          I don't ascribe to the idea though that religious people are necessarily irrational. We do not have rational brains to start with and rationality is not something that comes naturally to us.

          To be rational, we have to work at it, which is why we have philosophy and science.

      2. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: AI

        "the trouble is MANY religious people aren't rational."

        fixed it for ya. I agree with that. you can say the same thing when it comes to a 'secular religion' known as 'politica correctness'. Many similarities exist in the behavior of 'the followers' to religious fanatics of one kind or another.

        So maybe the statement SHOULD read: "The trouble is religious fanatics aren't rational" - and that goes with the SJWs, PC-fascists, and militant lefties, too.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Articles of Faith

    It is now apparent that to be considered a good person in Silicon Valley, one must adhere to the entire Transgender ideology. Failure to do so will result in this type of action.

    All I can say is that James Danmore was completely right in his assessment of the political nature of the Chocolate Factory.

    1. BigSLitleP

      Re: Articles of Faith

      Name one good thing the Heritage Foundation have done.

      1. BigSLitleP

        Re: Articles of Faith

        Lots of thumbs down but no answers. Time to get my popcorn.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Articles of Faith

        I agree with you and I'd like to see some answers to your question, as well. I'd guess the Heritage Foundation has it's trolls out down voting negative comments. I'd rather think that than that are so many Heritage supporters that there are enough of them that they just happened to be reading this article and even if that is the case what is the answer to your question :)

        1. BigSLitleP

          Re: Articles of Faith

          Yup, but instead the thumbs down keep rolling in and not a single piece of evidence in support of the Heritage Foundation has been brought forwards.

          Its almost as if there isn't any.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Articles of Faith

            And no evidence why association with the Heritage Foundation implies one is intrinsically evil and should be excluded from ethics committees. You are asserting it, where is your argument?

            1. fidodogbreath Silver badge

              Re: Articles of Faith

              And no evidence why association with the Heritage Foundation implies one is intrinsically evil and should be excluded from ethics committees. You are asserting it, where is your argument?

              ???

              This anonymous comment is the only one in the Articles of Faith thread that includes the word "evil."

          2. beast666

            Re: Articles of Faith

            It annoys you postmodern neomarxist types. Justifies it's existence completely.

      3. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Megaphone

        Re: Articles of Faith

        "Name one good thing the Heritage Foundation have done"

        JUST EXISTING, in opposition to LIBERALISM and POLITICAL CORRECTNESS. I think that is a VERY good thing!

      4. riverrock83

        Re: Articles of Faith

        They are a think tank / campaigning organisation - they don't "do" things.

        You may disagree with much of their politics but their views are those of many Americans and deserve to be heard.

        You probably agree with this article /analysis https://www.heritage.org/courts/commentary/no-packing-the-court despite not agreeing with many of their stances.

      5. Joanna Bryson

        Re: Articles of Faith

        Sorry for the late reply – they were partnering with Pelosi (leading liberal & Democrat in the US lower house) on fighting foreign cyber interference with US elections at the time all this went down. I didn't know that then though. Also, it's apparently amazing they had either a black person or a woman as their head, they used to be too conservative for that.

        The only reason I'd heard of them at that time though was because of people complaining because Gates donated to them.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Articles of Faith

      yeah that guy won't just be FIRED, he'll be BANNED, and BURNED AT THE STAKE! After all, he *DARED* to NOT swallow the LIBERAL COOLAID!

      There is business, and there is politics. Too many people in business *FEEL* (not think) that they can use it to control other people's POLITICS, too, by use of threats, firings, "suggest you resign", or what-have-you.

      Didn't the President of Mozilla have a SIMILAR situation, because his name was found on a list of contributors to pass a particular state proposition?

      I think a giant clue-bat, and a BIG FAT LAWSUIT, is in order, for OUTRIGHT DISCRIMINATION!!!

      "trigger word" indeed...

      [isn't the whole idea of freedom and tolerance to NOT create a 'look over your shoulder' and 'chilling effect' environment for people who MIGHT have different opinions on things? The 'brown shirts' of Silicon Valley are AT IT AGAIN, and some of them apparently work at GOOGLE!]

  6. druck Silver badge

    Snowflakes

    If you wont allow differing opinions to be heard, you should not be on any decision making body.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Snowflakes

      It is not about not allowing differing opinions being heard, it is about putting the same weight on all opinions. Not all opinions deserve the same consideration. Let's face it anyone can have an opinion on anything. That doesn't mean that person has been able to research a topic or has any breadth or depth of experience either technological or cultural to be able to make an informed opinion on any particular topic This is especially true when the particular person in question comes from an extremist funded think tank and so can be known to harbour that ideology, even if it is just for the money, although that may be doubtful.

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: Snowflakes

        This is an ethics board and ethics is not a science or technology issue but a moral/philosophical one. If you pack the board with essentially one viewpoint you will fail to consider other viewpoints or their frame of reference. By not acknowledging the existence of other viewpoints in area that has many ethically murky at best applications you blind yourself to real concerns of others. And it does matter which way you stack the board, you have the same fundamental flaw.

        The ethical issues they wish to address are not necessarily obvious nor are they likely to have easy answers. Nor are they readily addressed in standard ethical, philosophical, or religious treatises. The fundamental issue is what are the ethical and unethical uses of AI. A perusing of history will show we have often invented a technology, deployed, and starting using it without a clear understanding of any ethical considerations. Often we then trying get the horse back into the barn after it has gotten out.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Snowflakes

          The job of the Heritage foundation is to ensure that the point of view of the extraordinarily wealthy is heard and obeyed; so, yeah, they need more representation, obvs.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: Snowflakes

            "The job of the Heritage foundation is to ensure that the point of view of the extraordinarily wealthy is heard and obeyed"

            Do you have proof? I call 'fake news' on THAT one.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Snowflakes

      to whom do you direct this? I think the left NEVER allows differing opinions to be heard, by shouting them down, calling for firings and resignations, and being as disruptive as possible.

      So I'll have to agree with you: NOT allowing different opinions to be heard, a favorite tactic of the left, is a VERY bad thing.

  7. Chris G Silver badge

    In any organisation where the bottom lime is profit, don't expect much more than lip service and PR regarding ethics and morality. Profit is not limited to only money, it can also be power and/or expansion of influence so idealists are just as likely to skirt around moral and ethical questions as those chasing the money.

    1. Def Silver badge
      Coat

      Ahh, the infamous bottom lime surfaces once again. Or does it. If it did, surely it wouldn't be the lime at the bottom now would it?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Put up or shut up

    Googlers appear to be the most entitled and childish workforce in the world. First they have a hissy fit about “Dragon” – Chinese government approved search engine. Now they are objecting to someone on the ethics committee who doesn’t share their views about a completely different matter.

    Either they should get other jobs, or buy shares so then they would have some legitimate claim to providing directions to the company.

    1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

      Re: Put up or shut up

      I don't know about anyone else, but 25% of my offer was in shares. (I was an individual contributor.) So actually, they DO me that particular criteria.

      But they are a bunch of snowflakes.

  9. BigSLitleP

    "Voicing their opinions" and other fairy stories

    Look, there is a difference between voicing an opinion that is wrong (such as "all black people are lazy") in public and doing it in a decision making body.

    If you make it in public, i will just laugh at you and tell you you're stupid. If you do it in a decision making body, you can alter the way that decision making body behaves. For such a large organisation, this can affect millions of people and have far reaching consequences. No we shouldn't silence people, but that doesn't mean we allow them to take part in important decisions.

    There are reasons why we don't allow fascists to form political parties in the UK. It is about time we showed a bit of intolerance towards intolerant people. That includes fascists and religious nutjobs.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: "Voicing their opinions" and other fairy stories

      Depends on your definition of the word "fascist" of course. If you mean "person who disagrees with me", then we have a problem. If the Heritage Foundation are actual fascists, then obviously there's even more of a problem. I'm not well-informed on US think tanks, so I can't comment, and I'm too lazy to research it. It's one of those questions a quick check can't always easily tell.

      One of the reasons for the polarisation in politics at the moment is definitely that there are a lot of shouty people out there with horrible views. But it's also that there are a lot of campaigners out there who try to tar people who just happen to disagree with them with the same brush as the people with genuinely unacceptable views. In the short term this might work. You can deligitimise your political opponents and feel all warm and cuddly and virtuous. In the long term though, it can actually build support for the fringe groups, because people stop listening to the warnings. It's the equivalent of crying wolf.

      1. BigSLitleP

        Re: "Voicing their opinions" and other fairy stories

        Thumbs up from me.

        I didn't mean to imply that Heritage Foundation are literal fascists. They do however put out false information, such as "smoking isn't bad for you" and "climate change isn't a thing". Putting them in charge of an ethics committee is just ridiculous.

        I think we have taken the "we should give everyone a voice" thing a bit too far. It's not that we should silence everyone that disagrees with "me" (for any variable of me) it's that we need to stop allowing people that are factually incorrect from harming people that cannot defend themselves.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "Voicing their opinions" and other fairy stories

          https://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Heritage_Foundation

          https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/20/magazine/trump-government-heritage-foundation-think-tank.html

          https://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746 - US Oligarchy, study from Princeton and Northwestern Universities

          https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

          https://www.dailyitem.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/u-s-fascist-oligarchy/article_5e86e24c-2a55-5bf8-a5b7-08ecb2226ad6.html

          http://www.openculture.com/2016/05/noam-chomsky-on-whether-the-rise-of-trump-resembles-the-rise-of-fascism-in-1930s-germany.html

        2. cornetman Silver badge

          Re: "Voicing their opinions" and other fairy stories

          > ...from harming people that cannot defend themselves.

          Oh God, that old chestnut. "I'm" far too intelligent to be influenced by their awful opinions, but we must consider the poor, thick people.

          I also am worried about this bizarre use of the word fascist to describe dissenting opinion. Fascism is all about totalitarian control.

          The irony of many of these feminist shout mongers calling others fascists for having views that they find offensive is quite astonishing.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Voicing their opinions" and other fairy stories

            "I also am worried about this bizarre use of the word fascist to describe dissenting opinion. Fascism is all about totalitarian control."

            An Oligarchy is little different than a Fascist state. Have you been watching Trump and his use of rhetoric to stir up his base. Please, read about how Mussolini and Hitler stirred up their base support. I believe many of Trump's supporters would those you've characterized as, "the poor, thick people."

            "The irony of many of these feminist shout mongers calling others fascists for having views that they find offensive is quite astonishing."

            I guess it depends on your opinion of "Black Lives Matter" versus "All Lives Matter". The first was started in response to excessive police brutality. The second was started in response to and to defuse the useful effect of the first. We all know that all lives matter, but it certainly and reasonably appeared to the black community and many others that as per police actions that black lives didn't/don't matter. The police weren't/aren't killing white people or people of other ethnicities at anywhere near the rate of black people. So, the feminist shout mongers...are they, perhaps, trying to raise important issues that are being ignored?

            1. cornetman Silver badge

              Re: "Voicing their opinions" and other fairy stories

              Well, as you might have guessed. I am personally happy to hear all views, even ones that are downright fucked up.

              What I can't abide is the use of practical sanctions to suppress unpopular views, and I don't include mockery in that regard. Mockery is a valuable tool to use against the stupid. Where I draw the line though is getting people sacked or beaten up, or deplatformed because they won't toe the line on the currently sanctioned group think.

              I also believe that we shouldn't protect "thick people". We should educate them to be critical and rational.

              1. bombastic bob Silver badge
                Angel

                Re: "Voicing their opinions" and other fairy stories

                "Where I draw the line though is getting people sacked or beaten up, or deplatformed because they won't toe the line on the currently sanctioned group think."

                ACK. These are tactics of FASCISTS. Not the other way around. Think 'brown shirts'. Who wants to live in an environment like THAT? The people making the accusations, it seems, are even guiltier of the SAME THING.

                Getting closer to easter, there's this bible passage I know about. Apparently Jesus said it, something about removing the log from your own eye before removing the speck of sawdust from the other guy's eye. This is SO typical of hypocrites, to be guilty of doing something (say intolerance), then IMMEDIATELY spot "intolerance" in others they disagree with, and be all righteously indignant about it, getting on their soapbox and using every '-phobe' and '-ist' term they can recite, call for firings, picket people's houses, harass people in public, etc. - all while simultaneously being GUILTY of the SAME DAMN THING.

                It's worth pointing out how a log and a spec of sawdust are made of the SAME MATERIAL.

                And that ends my sermon - you're welcome!

                Or, as Shakespeare might put it: The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

                1. cornetman Silver badge

                  Re: "Voicing their opinions" and other fairy stories

                  Not sure why you're getting so hot under the collar.

                  I seem to agree with much of what you say.

                  And yes, a lot of the feminist wingnuts specifically calling out others as fascists are themselves fascists precisely because they don't really understand what they're talking about.

          2. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: "Voicing their opinions" and other fairy stories

            "Fascism is all about totalitarian control."

            Definition of fascism: a militant form of socialism that does government takeover of nearly all industry.

            It's a form of totalitarianism, yeah.

            Communism in its worst form is very much like it, except that ownership has been removed and substituted with a rude form of 'collectivism', managed by an 'elite' group of 'leaders'.

            In both cases, a small oligarchy benefits, while the masses suffer under the thumb of mediocrity.

            Funny how fascism and communism must be FORCED upon the masses, whereas freedom has a life of its own and typically "finds a way". It's human nature to be free. It's AGAINST human nature to be SOCIALIST or COMMUNIST.

        3. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: "Voicing their opinions" and other fairy stories

          "They do however put out false information, such as 'smoking isn't bad for you' and 'climate change isn't a thing'"

          MAN MADE climate change isn't a thing [this would be accurate]. And I don't know where you got this information about their attitude towards smoking, but I expect it, too, has been taken out of context.

          more 'fake news', yeah.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: "Voicing their opinions" and other fairy stories

      " It is about time we showed a bit of intolerance towards intolerant people"

      I already do that. It seems to me that the vast majority of these "silence the opposition in the name of tolerance" hypocrites are ON THE LEFT.

  10. Rudolph Hucker the Third

    This AI ethics board is clearly just not SJW and *woke* enough!

    And it's happening EVERYWHERE!!!

    As I type this with one hand I am ALSO writing an outraged letter of complaint to my local sports centre. I am shocked, *shocked*, that they are refusing to let trans-gender men in transition use the female changing rooms. Just because they still have beards!!! That sports centre has OBVIOUSLY become a far-right reactive organisation that Trump would approve of.

    I will be tweeting Titania McGrath to get her informed about this OUTRAGEOUS situation!

    https://twitter.com/TitaniaMcGrath

    I didn't get where I am today without being the only trans-gender lesbian in my village.

  11. POSitality

    Double standards

    Massive bleating about the "wrong think" of Christian conservatives but stay silent when Islamic conservatives actively attack the LGBTQ community :(

    1. BigSLitleP

      Re: Double standards

      I'll take something that doesn't happen for 100 Bob.

      1. BigSLitleP

        Re: Double standards

        Ah christian hypocrites, your tears are delicious.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Double standards

      Well said. Islam gets special treatment. Why is that?

      /me thumb-ups POSitality and ends with that rhetorical question...

  12. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    I'm confused

    Huge staff protests over Dragonfly. Why? Because it will be used by China to enforce their social credit system against wrong-thinkers in China.

    Attempt by large number of staffers to apply a social credit system against wrong-thinkers in the West, namely to ban two wrong-thinkers from a large _advisory_ board.

    1. BigSLitleP

      Re: I'm confused

      Let me help you with this.

      Protest against Dragonfly :- An attempt to stop a system being created that will harm anyone that doesn't follow the party line and can be used to cause human rights breaches

      Protest against Heritage Foundation members on an ethics committee :- An attempt to stop people with no ethics and multiple human rights breaches to influence a committee designed to stop such things happening.

      So actually, both are the same and follow the same ethics. Get it now?

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: I'm confused

        "Get it now?"

        No. I don't 'get' anti-logic and manipulation. The Heritage Foundation is NOT guilty of "no ethics and multiple human rights breaches". I think you may be guilty of promoting 'fake news'.

        But, your comment is well worth reading. It provides a window into what was probably motivating those thousand or so petition-signers at Google.

        (so no desire to silence, just expressing my disagreement).

  13. Jim-234

    Proving the well known Google Bias once again

    I think this is a perfect example to show people the well known bias for anything "traditional" or "conservative" that Google and their fellows are proud of.

    If you are trying to get a well rounded set of views & concerns from representatives of society as a whole regarding technology & it's application, you should have some people from different sides to get a complete picture of concerns and ideas. This panel was supposedly to get as many viewpoints as possible to help avoid conformational bias... but I guess that's not going to happen.

    But once again, we are seeing that if someone doesn't whole heartedly embrace the current "new speak" the mob over at Google will pull out their pitchforks.

    I mean who needs a discussion on biology or science or structural anatomy, or even the beliefs and preferences of a large amount of the population, when we are living in the new post truth era?

    1. BigSLitleP

      Re: Proving the well known Google Bias once again

      "I mean who needs a discussion on biology or science or structural anatomy, or even the beliefs and preferences of a large amount of the population, when we are living in the new post truth era?"

      Are you being serious? Considering the far right slant that the Heritage Foundation puts on things, do you actually believe they would add anything useful to a conversation on biology? Or science of any kind? You also have to remember that Google is a global company and therefor a conservative, christian American think tank represents a very small proportion of the world's population.

      1. Jim-234

        Re: Proving the well known Google Bias once again

        Yes actually, you'll find a fairly substantial percentage of the population have dissenting opinions from the current "new speak" definitions of biological based gender terms. So if you want to have a well rounded panel, then you need to include people who represent those opinions and concerns.

        Your post seems to show a dislike for a specific group based on nationality and religious preference.

        You seem to also forget religious belief systems encompassing a significant portion of the global population such as Christians, Muslims, Orthodox Jews and others often share similar concerns about things even if they don't agree on other matters. In addition the laws in many global countries are different than your preferences.

        Then take your other argument about Google itself.... sure it is a global company, right up till it has to abide by global laws or taxes.... then they fall back to "we are a USA company so we only have to follow USA laws we can help pay for"... till once again taxes come due and then suddenly they are a shell company that doesn't actually exist in a place where taxes exist but are instead only exist in some off shore tax haven.

        So having a panel member representing other views is probably a good idea, and if you really don't like them it's probably an even better idea to have them as then it will make you think about your own arguments and the basis for them which helps in many ways.

        1. Keven E

          Re: Proving the well known Google Bias once again

          Let's not forget.... Google is an advertising company, not a tech company.

          Forming an external committee is an attempt at ligitimizing any bul***t and/or definitions they'd like, but still being touchy-feely *looking, being *involved in tech related things and calling thier ability to promote those that give them the most money something near intelligence (artificial or not), while still being able to distance themselves to a certain extent when that bull***t does hit the fan.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Proving the well known Google Bias once again

          The whole majority/minority approving or disapproving isn't always the deciding factor. Human Rights is an example wherein the rights of minorities, as unpopular as those can be, shouldn't depend on the support of a majority of the population. For some of those minorities the right to exist, hold a job they're qualified for, not be persecuted for who they are is more important than whether the majority of the population agree with those rights.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Proving the well known Google Bias once again

            Who gets to decide what's a human right, though?

      2. beast666

        Re: Proving the well known Google Bias once again

        What would you know about science?

        You are probably of the view that gender, and the corresponding differences we see between men and women, are socially constructed.

        You would be quite wrong.

        quillette.com/2019/03/11/science-denial-wont-end-sexism/

  14. Great Bu

    Ethics is not a set standard of beliefs commonly shared by all humanity....

    There seems to be a misapprehension among the commentariat about what "Ethics" are....Ethics are a set of beliefs determined by the individual or society, not rules set in stone.

    Something is regarded as "ethical" if it fits in with whatever you or your society deem acceptable within their own ethical framework but - and here's the important bit - that ethical framework is determined by the individual or members of the society.

    In other words, when you have an ethics committee their task is to decide whether the behaviour under consideration should be regarded as ethical by determining what they wish their ethics to be, not comparing the behaviour to a pre-decided set of ethics and saying whether it fits the mould. An ethics committee should be choosing the shape of the mould, any cretin can decide if a behaviour fits in a mould after the mould's parameters have been determined.

    As such, any ethics committee should contain as wide a variety of contributors as are available, in representative proportions, so that they can shape the mould to reflect the society that is being asked to accept it not just trot out a pre-determined outcome predicated by pre-selected membership.

    I would go so far as to say that members of the organisation for which the ethics committee is being asked to police ethics should have very little say in who is on the committee otherwise they will just choose a committee that will agree with everything they want to do anyway - not real oversight by any means, just a rubber stamping committee giving the appearance of propriety with no actual effect on the organisation at all.

    1. cornetman Silver badge

      Re: Ethics is not a set standard of beliefs commonly shared by all humanity....

      I would go further and say that if you block out dissenting voices, then society cannot evolve. If we still had a monoculture of thought from the beginning of the last century, we would still be enslaving black people and chemically castrating gays.

      The whole thing that radicals these days don't seem to realise about silencing free speech on any issue that they feel strongly about is that free speech allowed us to move on from our previously bigoted selves. If slave owners and religious nutjobs had been able to convince us that more modern views on homosexuality and slavery were offensive and should be suppressed, I can't imagine what a fucked up world we would still be living in.

  15. swm Silver badge

    Wow! El Reg commentards can really get riled up. I wish I liked popcorn so I could have some and enjoy the show.

    (I'll probably get downvoted for not liking popcorn.)

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Pint

      how about one o' these?

  16. Rudolph Hucker the Third
    Joke

    I am now writing ANOTHER letter of complaint to the FASCIST BBC sock-puppet that still REFUSES to show LBGTQ couples on Strictly Come Dancing.

    What kind of ethics do they have if they don't have MY woke ethics? You have NO RIGHT to your own choices. If I can't dance with sequins and a beard I refuse to pay their license tax. A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having!

    Titania McGrath has been alerted!

    If I can’t dance, it’s not my revolution! If I can’t dance, I don’t want your revolution! If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution.

    Anarcho-Feminist Emma Goldman (1869-1940).

    Strictly Anarchy 2019

    Len Goodman 7

  17. umacf24

    " James seemed to refer to transgender women as biological men"

    Er... well, er...

  18. Joanna Bryson

    I ran into this while trying to wrap up my CV for the year (academics have to show we have "impact" including talking to the media...) I just want to thank the Register, Rebecca Hill, and Katyanna Quach for some of the best, most balanced, and least sensationalised reporting that came out during this whole ATEAC thing.

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