Feb 19, 2021 - Technology

Google fires another AI ethics leader

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Margaret Mitchell, the co-lead of Google's Ethical AI team, says that the company has fired her following an investigation into her use of corporate email.

Why it matters: Google was already under fire for its ouster of Timnit Gebru, the other co-lead of the team. Mitchell has been locked out of the corporate email since last month after what a source says was her effort to search corporate correspondence for evidence to back up Gebru's claim of discrimination and harassment.

The move comes the same day that Google announced internally it had completed its investigation of Gebru's exit, as Axios first reported. The company didn't release the findings of that investigation, but announced a series of policy changes, including tying executive pay companywide to diversity and inclusion efforts.

Between the lines: Mitchell also posted a tweet critical of Google's handling of Gebru and a subsequent meeting between CEO Sundar Pichai and historically Black college and university leaders.

"Say you have a problem with consistently alienating Black women and have caused serious damage in their lives. You could: A) try to undo that damage B) try to find more Black people to like you (the tokenism approach). Good luck....."
— Margaret Mitchell, in a January Twitter post

What they're saying:

  • Mitchell, on Twitter: "I'm fired."
  • Google, in a statement to Axios: “After conducting a review of this manager’s conduct, we confirmed that there were multiple violations of our code of conduct, as well as of our security policies, which included the exfiltration of confidential business-sensitive documents and private data of other employees.”

Go deeper: Google tweaks diversity, research policies following inquiry

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