Twitter adds former Google VP and AI guru Fei-Fei Li to board

Twitter has appointed Stanford Professor and former Google vice president Fei-Fei Li to its board as an independent director.

The social media platform said that Li’s expertise in artificial intelligence (AI) will bring relevant perspectives to the board. Li’s appointment could also help Twitter attract top AI talent from other Silicon Valley companies.

Li left his role as chief scientist of AI / ML at Google Cloud in October 2018 after being criticized for his comments regarding the controversial Project Maven initiative with the Pentagon, which allowed Google AI to identify drone targets from blurred drone video footage.

When the details of the project emerged, Google employees objectedsaying they didn’t want their AI technology to be used in military drones. Some resigned to protest and about 4,000 employees signed a petition calling for “a clear policy that neither Google nor its contractors will ever build war technology”.

Although Li was not directly involved in the project, a leaked email suggested that she was more concerned about what the public would do with Google’s involvement in the project as opposed to the ethics of the project. himself.

“It’s red meat for the media to find all the ways to harm Google,” she wrote, according to a copy of the email. obtained by Intercept. “You have probably heard Elon Musk and his commentary on the AI ​​causing World War III. “

“I don’t know what would happen if the media started to pick up on a theme that Google was secretly building AI weapons or AI technologies to activate weapons for the defense industry. Google Cloud built our theme on democratization AI in 2017, and Diane (Greene, Google Cloud Manager) and I talked about humanist AI for business. I would be very careful to protect these very positive images. “

A rising star

Until then, Li was considered a rising star of Google. For a year and 10 months, she oversaw basic scientific research in artificial intelligence, all products and engineering efforts of Google Cloud in AI / ML and a new Google AI laboratory in China.

During her time at Google, she maintained strong ties with Stanford and in March 2019, she launched the Stanford University Human-Centered AI Institute (HAI), which aims to advance research, education, policy and AI practices for the benefit of humanity.

“With unrivaled engineering, IT and AI expertise, Fei-Fei brings relevant perspectives to the board as Twitter continues to use technology to improve our service and achieve our long-term goals,” said Omid Kordestani , executive chairman of Twitter.

Twitter has been relatively slow in the race for AI. He acquired the British start-up Magic Pony Technologies in 2016 for up to $ 150 million as part of an effort to strengthen its AI benchmarks, but its AI efforts remain relatively weak compared to other companies. It doesn’t have the same reputation as companies like Google and Facebook when it comes to AI breakthroughs and machine learning.

Today, the company uses an AI technique called deep learning to recommend tweets to its users, and it also uses AI to identify racist content and hate speech, or content from extremist groups.

Competition for AI talent is fierce in Silicon Valley and Twitter certainly hopes that Li will be able to attract big names from the AI ​​world as she is one of the leaders in AI the most respected in the industry.

“Twitter is an incredible example of how technology can connect the world so powerfully, and I am honored to join the board at such an important time in the history of the company,” said Li.

“AI and machine learning can have a huge impact on the technology and the people who use it. I look forward to leveraging my experience for Twitter as it leverages this technology for the benefit of all who use it. service.”

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