The direction of the Google's AI ethics are visibly declining. After terminating the functions of Timnit Gebru, co-director of this unit, it is now Margaret Mitchell, the other responsible for this unit. unit, which has just been licensed by the American giant. This ethical artificial intelligence expert who has already worked on machine learning biases in terms of persity and on linguistic models for capturing images, had nevertheless was hired by Google to co-lead the company's ethical AI team with Timnit Gebru just two years ago.
Margaret Mitchell announced his dismissal with a terse message posted on his Twitter account . On the Google side, this forced departure is explained by "multiple violations of our code of conduct, as well as our security policies, which included the exfiltration of confidential business documents and private data of other employees ". Translation: Margaret Mitchell was reportedly fired for providing external documents to support her former colleague Timnit Gebru.
The latter was fired from Google last December. It criticized Google for "silencing marginalized voices " and had been the source of a research paper urging tech giants to ensure that language systems in 'AIs do not promote gender bias. Google claimed the AI expert had resignede. Still, the expert's ouster sparked an uproar among thousands of Google staff, with supporters claiming she "faced defensiveness, racism, gaslighting. , to censorship of research, and now to retaliatory dismissal ".
Google makes amends
"The dismissal is an act of retaliation against Timnit Gebru, and it announces a danger for people working for an ethical and fair AI - in particular for people of color - through Google ", one can read in a message posted by Google employees. For Margaret Mitchell, this "dismissal seems to have been fueled by the same foundations of racism and sexism that our AI systems, when in the wrong hands, tend to absorb ".
Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, apologized for thehow the company handled the dismissal of Timnit Gebru and promised to work to "restore the confidence" of the employees outraged by the incident. However, the dismissal was still cited as one of the reasons for the creation of the Alphabet Workers Union last January . On Friday, Google said that an internal investigation into the departure of Timnit Gebru had been completed and that the company would change its policies accordingly, including adopting "new procedures regarding exits from potentially sensitive employees ".
According to a memo located by online media Axios , Google IA chief Jeff Dean also apologized for the way Gebru's departure was handled, saying that "we could and should have handled this situation more sensitively ". " To all of you who I have worked closely with for 4 years, I have loved you as a working family, thank you for working with me and believing in me "Mitchell tweeted Monday. " I have tried to raise concerns about racial and gender inequality, and talk about the problematic Google dismissal of Timnit Gebru ".