Apr 2, 2019

Googlers protest AI advisory board member over anti-LGBT, anti-immigrant comments

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

More than 1,000 Google employees are calling for Google to rescind its decision to include Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James on a key AI advisory panel, pointing to her history of anti-gay, anti-transgender and anti-immigrant comments.

What they're saying: "Her record speaks for itself  —  over, and over, and over again," the Google employees said in a petition. "Google cannot claim to support trans people and its trans employees  —  a population that faces real and material threats  —  and simultaneously appoint someone committed to trans erasure to a key AI advisory position."

The big picture: Google last week named James to its Advanced Technology External Advisory Council. The company declined to comment. However, a source familiar with the situation said Google isn't budging and that the company likes the perspective she brings, including her NASA experience and free market thinking.

  • Plus, the company wants to be challenged on various issues by those that aren't part of its usual circles.

Between the lines: There is also a feeling in Google leadership that the company can't be seen as having to put all its management decisions up for a popular vote.

Flashback: Google refused for months to pull down an Android app that LGBT groups said engages in a form of conversion therapy.

  • However, it reversed course less than 24 hours after the Human Rights Campaign suspended Google's rating in its influential Corporate Equality Index.

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Coronavirus spreads to more countries, and South Korea ups its case count

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus continues to spread to more nations, and the U.S. reports a doubling of its confirmed cases to 34 — while noting those are mostly due to repatriated citizens, emphasizing there's no "community spread" yet in the U.S. South Korea's confirmed cases jumped from 204 on Friday to 433 on Saturday.

The big picture: COVID-19 has now killed at least 2,362 people and infected more than 77,000 others, mostly in mainland China. New countries to announce infections recently include Israel, Lebanon and Iran.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 16 mins ago - Health

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

Situational awareness

Warren Buffett. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway
  2. Greyhound bars immigration sweeps
  3. U.S. military officially stops offensive operations in Afghanistan
  4. America's future looks a lot like Nevada
  5. Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins