Google is facing a mounting rebellion from its employees over the dismissal of AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru
AI ethicsresearcher Dr. Timnit Gebru.
- Gebru says she was fired by the tech giant, whereas Google says she resigned.
- Google employees published a blog post on Monday backing up Gebru's version of events.
- "Dr. Gebru did not resign, despite what Jeff Dean (Senior Vice President and head of Google Research), has publicly stated," the employees said.
Google employees are increasingly attacking the company over the dismissal of an AI ethics researcher.
In a blog post by the employee activism group "Google Walkout for Real Change," employees expressed solidarity with Dr. Timnit Gebru, a technical co-lead of Google's ethical-artificial-intelligence team."Dr. Gebru did not resign, despite what Jeff Dean (Senior Vice President and head of Google Research), has publicly stated," the post reads.
Gebru said she had been in discussions with Google that involved resignation, as the company had rejected a research paper she had co-authored on potential bias in large language models. Gebru had given the tech giant a set of conditions, without which she would be tendering her resignation.Rather than respond to her conditions, Google went over Gebru's head and told her coworkers she had already resigned. Gebru said this was expedited after she sent an email to an internal women's group expressing her frustration that the paper had been blocked without satisfactory explanation.
In the blog post published Monday, Googlers said the standards that Dean cited for rejecting Gebru's paper were applied "unevenly and discriminatorily."In his published statement, Dean said the paper had in part been rejected because it was only submitted a day before its deadline. "We require two weeks for this sort of review," Dean said. The Google workers disputed this.
"There is no hard requirement for papers to actually go through this review with two weeks' notice," they wrote.
"Numerous papers are approved for publication submission without meeting this 'requirement': an internal analysis shows that just under half of the papers submitted to PubApprove are done so with a day or less notice to approvers."Business Insider has contacted Google for comment.
Google's handling of Gebru's departure seems to be provoking more and more employee outrage. An anonymous Google employee told Business Insider the incident left Googlers "seriously pissed," and that "people are trying to find out why the reaction was so extreme."
Following Gebru's tweets, more than 1,000 Google employees, as well as 1,500 outside academics and industry professionals, signed their names on an open letter demanding that Google explain why it rejected Gebru's research paper.Per the BBC, the number of total signatories has now swelled to 4,500.
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