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Timnit Gebru, Google’s Co-Head Of Ethical Artificial Intelligence Says She Was Fired For An Email

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A co-leader of the Ethical Artificial Intelligence team at Google, Timnit Gebru, accused the company of firing her for an email that was deemed as inconsistent. Gebru alleged she was fired for sending an email that management deemed “inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager.”

Also Read: Indian-American Professor Shruti Puri Named Blavatnik Scientists Awards Finalist

According to her, the email and the firing were a result of a week-long dispute over the company’s request to Gebru to withdraw an AI ethics paper she had co-written with six others, including four Google employees. The paper was submitted for consideration for an industry conference next year. She further stated that if she didn’t agree to withdraw the paper Google at least wanted the name of its other employees to be removed, reported  Bloomberg Technology.

Gebru reportedly approached Google Research Vice-President, Meghan Kacholia, for an explanation on the issue and told her that without more discussion on the paper and the way it was handled she would plan to resign after a transition period. She was also curious to know what would happen in the future about similar projects that her team might undertake.

Meanwhile, she joined in on an email group for company researchers called Google Brain Women and Allies and commented on a report others were working on about how few women had been hired by Google during the pandemic. In the email she reportedly wrote, “Stop writing your documents because it doesn’t make a difference,” she further added that, “There is no way more documents or more conversations will achieve anything.”

She talked about her own experience in the mail and wrote that such documentation was unlikely to be effective since no one at Google will be held accountable. She referred to her experience with the AI paper submitted for the conference and linked it to the report.

The next day, Gebru reportedly received an email from Kacholia which said that since the company is unable to meet her demands they respect her decision to leave the company. The email also said, “certain aspects of the email you sent last night to non-management employees in the brain group reflect behavior that is inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager,” according to tweets Gebru posted, which specifically accuses Jeff Dean, who heads Google’s AI division for firing her.

According to her, this is a “fundamental silencing” and she is unable to even have her scientific voice. Since her removal, Google Walkout For Real Change posted a petition in support of Gebru on Medium, which has gathered more than 400 signatures from employees at the company and more than 500 from academic and industry figures, as reported by Indian Express.

Also Read: Get To Know Odia Scientist Jyotirmayee Dash, Winner of Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize 2020

This is a developing story.

Image Credit: NY times

Arunima Sharma is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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