Timnit Gebru: Tensions are running high in Google’s ethical AI group as it sends demands to Sundar Pichai

Letter sent to CEO Sundar Pichai with the title “The future of ethical AI at Google”. It outlines the steps the researchers want the company to take in order to “rebuild trust” with the team and create an environment in which they can continue their work. The team researches the ethical implications of AI and advises the company on AI policies and products.

This comes on the heels of the sudden exit of Timnit Gebru, who until early December was the co-leader of the Google Ethical AI Team. She was also one of the few black employees In the company in general (3.7% of Google employees are black, according to the company’s 2020 annual diversity report) – not to mention the AI ​​department. The research scientist is also the co-founder of the group Black in AI, which aims to increase the representation of blacks in the field.

The demands in the letter include the removal of Google’s Vice President, Megan Cachulia, from the team management chain; To be transparent about the departure of Gibro; Google’s head of AI, Jeff Dean, and Cachulia should apologize for the way Gibro has been treated. It also calls on the company to offer Gebru a new position at a higher level, publicly commit to the integrity of the search done at Google, and to ensure that no workers are harmed by Gebru’s advocate.

In a letter sent to Pichai and others related to the letter, Alex Hanna, a senior research scientist on the AI ​​Ethics Team, said it was sent on behalf of her team. A source familiar with the team said that the team has approximately ten members.

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first Reported by Bloomberg, CNN Business also obtained a copy of the letter and confirmed its authenticity. Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
On Wednesday, December 2, GPRO chirp She was “fired immediately.” For an email you recently sent to the Brain Women and Allies internal mailing list at Google. In the email, she expressed her dissatisfaction with the company’s continuing lack of diversity and frustration with an internal process related to reviewing an unpublished research paper she co-authored.
at Subsequent Tweets, Gibro made it clear that no one at Google had explicitly told her she was fired. Instead, she said, Google would not fulfill several of the conditions for her return and accepted her resignation immediately because she felt her email reflected “behavior inconsistent with the expectations of the Google manager.”

Gibro’s sudden exit soon angered thousands of the company’s employees and others in tech and academia.

Google said On Wednesday, December 9th It will examine the departure of Gibro. In a note sent to Google (Google)As an employee, Pichai wrote that the company needs to “assess the circumstances” that led to Gibro leaving Google last week, and examine “where we could have improved and led a more respectful process.”

“We will begin to review what happened to identify all the points we can learn from – considering everything from de-escalation strategies to new processes that we can implement,” he wrote in a note that was confirmed as original. .

Gibro is well known for her research on bias and inequality in AI, especially for 2018 a sheet She co-authored that highlighted how vulnerable commercial facial recognition programs can be when trying to categorize women and people of color. Their work sparked a widespread awareness of the issues common to AI today, especially when technology is tasked with identifying anything about humans.
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