Fallout continues over Google's ouster of research scientist Timnit Gebru, who helped lead the company's Ethical AI research team. Fallout continues over Google's ouster of research scientist Timnit Gebru, who helped lead the company's Ethical AI research team. When Google unceremoniously ousted Black researcher Timnit Gebru, she felt targeted. "My theory is that they had wanted me out for a while because I spoke up a lot about issues related to black people, women, and marginalization," Gebru said in an interview on NPR's Morning Edition. At Google, Gebru was the co-lead of the company's Ethical Artificial Intelligence team, where she was able to parlay her passion for highlighting the societal effects of AI into academic papers that could shape Google's largest products, like search.
Hundreds of Google employees and more than 1,000 academic researchers are speaking out in protest after a prominent Black scientist studying the ethics of artificial intelligence said she was fired by Google after the company attempted to suppress her research and she criticized its diversity efforts. Timnit Gebru, who was the technical co-lead of Google's Ethical AI team, wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that she had been fired after sending an email to an internal group for women and allies working in the company's AI unit. The email, which was first published by the tech newsletter Platformer, referenced a dispute over a research paper, but more broadly expressed frustration at Google's diversity programs. In it, Gebru argued that "there is zero accountability" or real incentive for Google leadership to change. "Your life gets worse when you start advocating for underrepresented people, you start making the other leaders upset," Gebru wrote.
Google says it will examine the departure of a prominent Black female researcher in the field of ethics in artificial intelligence, whose recent, sudden exit has angered thousands of the company's employees and others in the tech and academic communities. In a memo sent Wednesday to Google (GOOG) employees, CEO Sundar Pichai said the company needs to "assess the circumstances" that led up to Timnit Gebru leaving Google last week, and examine "where we could have improved and led a more respectful process." "We will begin a review of what happened to identify all the points where we can learn -- considering everything from de-escalation strategies to new processes we can put in place," he wrote in a memo that was first posted online by news website Axios and has been confirmed as authentic by CNN Business. A Google spokeswoman said the company had no comment. Gebru is known for her research into bias and inequality in AI, and in particular for a 2018 paper she coauthored with Joy Buolamwini that highlighted how poorly commercial facial-recognition software fared when attempting to classify women and people of color.
Timnit Gebru, one of Google's top artificial intelligence researchers, says the company abruptly fired her yesterday. The technical co-lead of Google's Ethical Artificial Intelligence Team claims managers were upset about an email she'd sent to colleagues. The email, which was sent to the Brain Women and Allies listserv, voiced frustration that managers were trying to get Gebru to retract a research paper. The full text was first published in Platformer. "A week before you go out on vacation, you see a meeting pop up at 4:30pm PST on your calendar," it reads.
On Wednesday, members of the company's prominent Ethical AI research team wrote a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking that ousted researcher Timnit Gebru be rehired. On Wednesday, members of the company's prominent Ethical AI research team wrote a letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai asking that ousted researcher Timnit Gebru be rehired. Members of a prestigious research unit at Google have sent a letter to the company's chief executive demanding that ousted artificial intelligence researcher Timnit Gebru be reinstated. Gebru, who studies the ethics of AI and was one of the only Black research scientists at Google, says she was unexpectedly fired after a dispute over an academic paper and months of speaking out about the need for more women and people of color at the tech giant. In a letter sent on Wednesday by members of Google's Ethical AI team to CEO Sundar Pichai, Gebru's former colleagues ask that she be re-hired and promoted, among a host of other demands, according to a copy of the note obtained by NPR that was first reported by Bloomberg.