May 8, 2021

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Second AI researcher says she was fired by Google

2 min read


For the second in three months, an eminent researcher in ethics artificial intelligence says Google fired her.

Friday, researcher Margaret Mitchell mentionned she had been fired from the company’s AI lab, Google Brain, where she previously co-led a group working on ethical approaches to artificial intelligence.

His former co-leader of this group, Timnit Gebru, left Google in December. Gebru said she had been fired after refusing to retract or remove his name from a cautionary research paper with AI systems that process text, including the technology that Google uses in its search engine. Gebru said she believed the disagreement could have been used as a pretext to fire her because of her willingness to speak out against Google’s mistreatment of black employees and women.

Mitchell learned she had been released in an email Friday afternoon. Inside Google, her former team was told by an official that she would not be coming back from a suspension that began last month. The whole world found out when Mitchell posted two words on Twitter: “I’m fired.”

In a statement, a Google spokesperson said Mitchell shared “confidential business sensitive documents and private data of other employees” outside the company. After Mitchell’s suspension last month, Google said activity on his account triggered a security system. A source close to Mitchell’s suspension said she used a script to search her email for information about Gebru’s time at the company.

Gebru, Mitchell, and their ethical AI team at Google have been prominent contributors to the recent growth of research by AI experts seeking to understand and mitigate the potential drawbacks of AI. They helped Google executives’ decisions to limit some of the company’s AI offerings, such as removing a feature from an image recognition service that tried to identify the gender of people in photos.

The acrimonious outings of the two Google women have drawn new attention to the tensions inherent in companies chasing profits through AI while also retain staff to investigate limitations should be placed on technology. After Gebru left, some AI experts said they were I don’t know whether to trust Google’s work on these issues.

Google AI research director Jeff Dean previously said the research paper that led to Gebru’s departure was of poor quality, and he did not mention some work on ways to fix them. flaws in AI text systems. Researchers inside and outside of Google have challenged this characterization. Over 2,600 Google employees signed a letter protesting against Gebru’s treatment.





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