News  |    |  October 21, 2019

These Startups Are Building Tools to Keep an Eye on AI

News article by Tom Simonite.
Published in Wired.


The software can help developers constrain their creations so they don’t make bad decisions.

In January, Liz O’Sullivan wrote a letter to her boss at artificial intelligence startup Clarifai, asking him to set ethical limits on its Pentagon contracts. WIRED had previously revealed that the company worked on a controversial project processing drone imagery.

O’Sullivan urged CEO Matthew Zeiler to pledge the company would not contribute to the development of weapons that decide for themselves whom to harm or kill. At a company meeting a few days later, O’Sullivan says, Zeiler rebuffed the plea, telling staff he saw no problems with contributing to autonomous weapons. Clarifai did not respond to a request for comment.

O’Sullivan decided to take a stand. “I quit,” she says. “And cried through the weekend.” Come Monday, though, she took a previously planned trip to an academic conference on fairness and transparency in technology. There she met Adam Wenchel, who previously led Capital One’s AI work, and the pair got to talking about the commercial opportunity of helping companies keep their AI deployments in check.

O’Sullivan and Wenchel are now among the cofounders of startup Arthur, which provides tools to help engineers monitor the performance of their machine learning systems. [ . . . ]