Last Week in AI #109

Another Google boycott, robots for household chores, and more!

Mini Briefs

A researcher turned down a $60k grant from Google because it ousted 2 top AI ethics leaders: 'I don't think this is going to blow over'

Citing Google's treatment of former Ethical AI co-leads Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, assistant professor Luke Stark of the University of Western Ontario turned down a $60,000 research grant from Google. Himself a researcher focused on the social and ethical impacts of AI, Stark told Insider he felt Google was putting together a top-notch ethical AI team and moving in a good direction. He shared his grant and the fact that he would decline it on Twitter. Stark's boycott follows a number of responses to the controversy over Gebru's and Mitchell's firing.

Why it will be years before robot butlers take over your household chores

It would be nice to have a robot do your household chores every day: you'd save plenty of time and live in a clean home. But how much would you pay for such a robot? Probably not as much as it costs to develop one. A number of companies, such as Miso Robotics, have developed robots capable of single, focused tasks like flipping burgers. But companies have had a hard time commercializing anything complex for decades. Robots that can accomplish involved tasks such as doing chores will be difficult to create, and, as Boston Dynamics' chairman Marc Raibert says, the biggest problem is safety. We'll likely see single-task robots in the years to come, but anything more advanced will likely not come until much later.

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