Google Plans To Double AI Ethics Research Staff
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Google Plans To Double AI Ethics Research Staff

CEO will boost operating budget of team tasked with evaluating code and product to avert discrimination.

By Trip Mickle
Wed, May 12, 2021 10:25amGrey Clock 3 min

Alphabet Inc.’s Google plans to double the size of its team studying artificial-intelligence ethics in the coming years, as the company looks to strengthen a group that has had its credibility challenged by research controversies and personnel defections.

Vice President of Engineering Marian Croak said at The Wall Street Journal’s Future of Everything Festival that the hires will increase the size of the responsible AI team that she leads to 200 researchers. Additionally, she said that Alphabet Chief Executive Sundar Pichai has committed to boost the operating budget of a team tasked with evaluating code and product to avert harm, discrimination and other problems with AI.

“Being responsible in the way that you develop and deploy AI technology is fundamental to the good of the business,” Ms. Croak said. “It severely damages the brand if things aren’t done in an ethical way.”

Google announced in February that Ms. Croak would lead the AI ethics group after it fired the division’s co-head, Margaret Mitchell, for allegedly sharing internal documents with people outside the company. Ms. Mitchell’s exit followed criticism of Google’s suppression of research last year by a prominent member of the team, Timnit Gebru, who says she was fired because of studies critical of the company’s approach to AI. Mr. Pichai pledged an investigation into the circumstances around Ms. Gebru’s departure and said he would seek to restore trust.

In addition to straining the existing team, those personnel changes have frayed Google’s relationship with external groups focused on AI such as Black in AI and Queer in AI, which released a joint statement Monday criticizing Google for setting a “dangerous precedent for what type of research, advocacy, and retaliation is permissible in our community.” The statement was earlier covered by Wired.

Ms. Croak called those exits a tragedy and said she agreed to fill the position because she thought she could help provide some stability in what has been a distressing time. A Princeton University graduate, she has a doctorate in social psychology and quantitative analysis and said she plans to bring her user-focused approach to engineering and concern about societal issues to the role.

“I thought, maybe, I could make a difference and carry on the work and have a larger impact,” Ms. Croak said.

Health will be one area of focus for the group, she said. The AI team recently assisted in the development of an algorithm that can detect abnormal heart rhythms by scanning fingertips on an Android phone. During its development, she said the ethics team helped determine that darker-skinned people had more variabilities and errors in testings, which had to be addressed before the product’s release.

Ms. Croak is one of very few senior Black executives at Google, where Black women account for 1.2% of the workforce. She has served as chair of Google’s Black Leadership Advisory Group and has been active in calling for Silicon Valley companies to improve their diversity.

“They’re disappointing numbers and I think that’s true for so many companies in Silicon Valley,” Ms. Croak said of the percentage of Black employees in Google’s workforce. “Fortunately, in the last year or so, we’ve made a more concerted effort in attracting Black talent, but those numbers are pretty dismal.”

She said that Google has been more proactive in providing mentorship to young Black staffers and said that it would take changing the culture across Silicon Valley to improve opportunities for people of color in tech.

“Sometimes I think it’s the mind-set where you’re very competitive and individualistic in your pursuits in the workplace and that sometimes can foster, not racism, but at least exclusion,” Ms. Croak said.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: May 11, 2021.



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These stocks are getting hit for a reason. Instead, focus on stocks that show ‘relative strength.’ Here’s how.

By KEN SHREVE
Wed, Jun 12, 2024 4 min

A lot of investors get stock-picking wrong before they even get started: Instead of targeting the top-performing stocks in the market, they focus on the laggards—widely known companies that look as if they are on sale after a period of stock-price weakness.

But these weak performers usually are going down for good reasons, such as for deteriorating sales and earnings, market-share losses or mutual-fund managers who are unwinding positions.

Decades of Investor’s Business Daily research shows these aren’t the stocks that tend to become stock-market leaders. The stocks that reward investors with handsome gains for months or years are more often  already  the strongest price performers, usually because of outstanding earnings and sales growth and increasing fund ownership.

Of course, many investors already chase performance and pour money into winning stocks. So how can a discerning investor find the winning stocks that have more room to run?

Enter “relative strength”—the notion that strength begets more strength. Relative strength measures stocks’ recent performance relative to the overall market. Investing in stocks with high relative strength means going with the winners, rather than picking stocks in hopes of a rebound. Why bet on a last-place team when you can wager on the leader?

One of the easiest ways to identify the strongest price performers is with IBD’s Relative Strength Rating. Ranked on a scale of 1-99, a stock with an RS rating of 99 has outperformed 99% of all stocks based on 12-month price performance.

How to use the metric

To capitalise on relative strength, an investor’s search should be focused on stocks with RS ratings of at least 80.

But beware: While the goal is to buy stocks that are performing better than the overall market, stocks with the highest RS ratings aren’t  always  the best to buy. No doubt, some stocks extend rallies for years. But others will be too far into their price run-up and ready to start a longer-term price decline.

Thus, there is a limit to chasing performance. To avoid this pitfall, investors should focus on stocks that have strong relative strength but have seen a moderate price decline and are just coming out of weeks or months of trading within a limited range. This range will vary by stock, but IBD research shows that most good trading patterns can show declines of up to one-third.

Here, a relative strength line on a chart may be helpful for confirming an RS rating’s buy signal. Offered on some stock-charting tools, including IBD’s, the line is a way to visualise relative strength by comparing a stock’s price performance relative to the movement of the S&P 500 or other benchmark.

When the line is sloping upward, it means the stock is outperforming the benchmark. When it is sloping downward, the stock is lagging behind the benchmark. One reason the RS line is helpful is that the line can rise even when a stock price is falling, meaning its value is falling at a slower pace than the benchmark.

A case study

The value of relative strength could be seen in Google parent Alphabet in January 2020, when its RS rating was 89 before it started a 10-month run when the stock rose 64%. Meta Platforms ’ RS rating was 96 before the Facebook parent hit new highs in March 2023 and ran up 65% in four months. Abercrombie & Fitch , one of 2023’s best-performing stocks, had a 94 rating before it soared 342% in nine months starting in June 2023.

Those stocks weren’t flukes. In a study of the biggest stock-market winners from the early 1950s through 2008, the average RS rating of the best performers before they began their major price runs was 87.

To see relative strength in action, consider Nvidia . The chip stock was an established leader, having shot up 365% from its October 2022 low to its high of $504.48 in late August 2023.

But then it spent the next four months rangebound—giving up some ground, then gaining some back. Through this period, shares held between $392.30 and the August peak, declining no more than 22% from top to bottom.

On Jan. 8, Nvidia broke out of its trading range to new highs. The previous session, Nvidia’s RS rating was 97. And that week, the stock’s relative strength line hit new highs. The catalyst: Investors cheered the company’s update on its latest advancements in artificial intelligence.

Nvidia then rose 16% on Feb. 22 after the company said earnings for the January-ended quarter soared 486% year over year to $5.16 a share. Revenue more than tripled to $22.1 billion. It also significantly raised its earnings and revenue guidance for the quarter that was to end in April. In all, Nvidia climbed 89% from Jan. 5 to its March 7 close.

And the stock has continued to run up, surging past $1,000 a share in late May after the company exceeded that guidance for the April-ended quarter and delivered record revenue of $26 billion and record net profit of $14.88 billion.

Ken Shreve  is a senior markets writer at Investor’s Business Daily. Follow him on X  @IBD_KShreve  for more stock-market analysis and insights, or contact him at  ken.shreve@investors.com .