DeepMind ethics panel warns of potential for Alphabet monetisation demands

In June 2018, a panel set up to examine the partnerships between Alphabet's DeepMind and the UK's NHS express concern that the revenue-less AI subsidiary would eventually have to prove its value to its parent. Panel chair Julian Huppert said DeepMind should commit to a business model, either non-profit or reasonable profit, and noted the risk that otherwise Alphabet would push the company to use its access to data to drive monopolistic profits. In that case, DeepMind would either have to produce substantial revenues or share its data and algorithms. 

DeepMind employs 100 people who work exclusively on health care. Its projects include a diagnosis app, efforts to use AI to analyse medical scans, and "Streams", a service that monitors patients with kidney injuries at a number of UK hospitals. The UK's ICO ruled that the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust broke data protection laws when it participated in a trial of Streams that used the data of 1.6 million patients without informing them. DeepMind, founded in 2010 and acquired by Alphabet in 2012, has set up an ethics panel, publishes its contracts on its website, and allows its hospital partners to retain control over their data, a situation that remains subject to Alphabet's willingness to let it continue.

writer: Aliya Ram and Richard Waters
publication: Financial Times