3 min Analytics

“Google also disbanded AI watchdog focused on health care.

“Google also disbanded AI watchdog focused on health care.

Google has dissolved its Independent Review Panel, which focused on AI-related healthcare activities. According to The Wall Street Journal, there would be disagreement between panelists and Google Health about its effectiveness.

It is yet another AI watchdog that is causing a stir internally. It was previously announced that the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council had already disintegrated a week after its launch. The Advisory Council was mainly concerned with the members themselves. They were severely criticised by previous statements or functions.

The Independent Review Panel was established in 2016 to oversee a new Health Unit within DeepMind, Googles AI research centre in the UK. At the end of 2018, Google began to dismantle the independent council, according to Google, due to a reorientation of its activities in the healthcare sector. However, this step was also the result of a disagreement between members of the board and DeepMind.


According to The Wall Street Journal, the disputes between the two parties are mainly based on the panel’s ability to access information on research and products, the binding force of its recommendations and the degree of independence that DeepMind was able to maintain vis-à-vis Google. A DeepMind spokesman explains to The Wall Street Journal that the board is unlikely to be the right structure for the future.

Following the acquisition of DeepMind by Google in 2014, DeepMind has been granted a degree of independence in terms of AI research. In 2016, the company set up DeepMind Health, with its own independent review panel, which would publish an annual report.

Two months later, DeepMind Health made a big mistake. The unit unfairly gave itself access to more than 1.6 million patient files, without the partner hospital being able to inform patients about it. The Independent Review Panel was driven to publicise contracts between DeepMind Health and healthcare institutions, and was praised at the time for the way in which it openly expressed its concerns.

Interference by Google

However, a number of panel members feel that they are unable to perform their tasks adequately because they are not given enough information from DeepMind. The tension between the two parties reached a peak, when Google indicated that it wanted to interfere more in the activities of DeepMind Health, and the latter was renamed Google Health.

For example, a project called Streams that helps doctors in the UK to detect kidney disease is now being continued from Google headquarters in Mountain View. According to Google, the development of the AI-driven app can take place anywhere and Google wants to make it available worldwide. This caused displeasure among several panel members, who would have liked to have played an informative role and felt that they were being taken behind their backs.

According to The Wall Street Journal, there will be a final publication from the Independent Review Panel before it is dissolved. This will include recommendations on how such panels can be better set up in the future.

This news article was automatically translated from Dutch to give Techzine.eu a head start. All news articles after September 1, 2019 are written in native English and NOT translated. All our background stories are written in native English as well. For more information read our launch article.