Google has made supposed affirmations on making changes in the research review procedures in the current year in its AI division, to be able to gain employee confidence after two of the most recent firings of women employees that were working at prominent positions in the company.
An insight view at the company’s internal meeting, via a recording obtained by Reuters this month, shows Google making promises to properly address “sensitive” subjects and research, significant to its business operations.
Back in December Google had abruptly fired a highly respected researcher and the co-head of the AI ethics team at Google, Timnit Gebru after a research paper, which she co-authored, posed potential threats for unfairness in large scale modeling of the natural language.
People holding senior positions in the company blocked the publishing of her paper, asking her to remove her credentials from the paper or retract the same. But she denied and instead, mailed the team justifying her act as a part of the attitude which is pervasive in Google to shut the voices of the marginalized, involving people of color and women.
Emily Bender said in a statement given to Financial Times, “From the outside, it looks like someone at Google decided this was harmful to their interests.” Gebru was no more an employee working at the company and was gone within a span of a few days.
This incident created chaos within the company as workers launched a union drive in January against the same.
In the past week, another women employee Margaret Mitchell, who was a part of the ethics team the same as Gebru, was fired. She was also a co-author of the same research work that Gebru was associated with which eventually led to her firing. At the time, she had published a letter openly showcasing her stand in favor of Gebru.