Google widely criticized after parting ways with a leading voice in AI ethics
“Because there is zero accountability. There is no incentive to hire 39% women: your life gets worse when you start advocating for underrepresented people, you start making the other leaders upset when they don’t want to give you good ratings during calibration. There is no way more documents or more conversations will achieve anything,” she wrote.
Gebru also expressed frustration over an internal process related to the review of a research paper she coauthored with others at Google and outside the company that had not yet been published.
The research paper in question
Gebru told CNN Business that on Wednesday she was informed that she no longer worked at the company. “It really didn’t have to be like this at all,” Gebru said.
An email sent to Google Research employees
A Google spokeswoman said the company had no comment.
Dean added: “Unfortunately, this particular paper was only shared with a day’s notice before its deadline — we require two weeks for this sort of review — and then instead of awaiting reviewer feedback, it was approved for submission and submitted.”
He said Gebru responded with demands that had to be met if she were to remain at Google. “Timnit wrote that if we didn’t meet these demands, she would leave Google and work on an end date,” Dean wrote.
Gebru told CNN Business that her conditions included transparency about the way the paper was ordered to be retracted, as well as meetings with Dean and another AI executive at Google to talk about the treatment of researchers.
“We accept and respect her decision to resign from Google,” Dean wrote. He also explained some of the company’s research and review process and said he will be speaking with Google’s research teams, including those on the ethical AI team “so they know that we strongly support these important streams of research.”
A quick show of support
Just after Gebru’s initial tweet on Wednesday, coworkers and others quickly shared support for her online, including Margaret Mitchell, who had been Gebru’s co-team leader at Google.
Citron told CNN Business that she sees Gebru as a “leading light” when it comes to exposing, clarifying, and studying racism and embedded inequities that are perpetuated in algorithmic systems. Gebru showed how important it is to rethink how data is collected, she said, and ask questions about whether we should even use these systems, she said.
“WTF, Google?” she said. “Sorry, but you were so lucky she even came to work for you.”
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