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Google fires researcher Margaret Mitchell in the turmoil of the AI ​​department




“I was fired,” researcher Margaret Mitchell wrote on Twitter.

Angela Lang / CNET

Google fired Margaret Mitchell, who co-led the company’s ethical AI team, more than two months after the controversial expulsion of other team leader Timnit Gebru on Friday. This move escalate the already confused tensions in the Google sector.

Mitchell was the subject of a Google investigation for dealing with company data. Google’s manager reportedly used automated software to look up old messages and find examples of discriminatory treatment against Gebru. Mitchell said she had been locked out of her corporate account for five weeks while Google was conducting an investigation.

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“I was fired,” Mitchell wrote on Twitter on Friday. Mitchell did not respond to a request for comment.

Google confirmed the dismissal. “After reviewing this manager’s behavior, we identified multiple violations of the Code of Conduct and security policies, including the disclosure of confidential business documents and personal data of other employees.” A spokesman said in a statement.

Mitchell’s firing occurs when Google faces a counterattack over the expulsion of Gebble, one of the few prominent black women in the field. Gebru announced in December that it was fired in a research treatise pointing out the risk of AI bias, including the systems used by Google’s search engine. Gebru also sent an email to a group of Google employees, criticizing the company’s diversity and equity program.

Gebru’s withdrawal has caused widespread anger among Google’s general employees and around the broader tech industry. Nearly 2,700 Google employees have signed an open letter in support of Gebru, and a former member of Gebru’s Google team has sent a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai requesting her return.

Google also said on Friday that it had put together another internal investigation into the treatment of Gebble. The company said it had worked with an outside lawyer for the investigation, but refused to share the findings. A Google spokeswoman did not answer specific questions about how the investigation was conducted.

Following the review, Google said it would make changes to its HR and diversity policies. The company said it would link its diversity goals to performance evaluations above the vice president. Google also said it has doubled the teams involved in employee retention. The company consults with a human resources specialist to address potentially controversial employee retirements.

Friday’s policy change drew criticism from Gebble and her supporters.

“I wrote an email asking about things and was fired. And after three months of investigation, they should probably do some of what I think I was fired without taking any responsibility. I said, “Gevre wrote. On Twitter. In another tweet, she added, “Accountability is zero. It’s zero.”

Gebru did not respond to requests for additional comments.

The changes were announced the day after Google announced that it would reorganize its team focused on responsible development of AI. The new team will be headed by Marian Cloak, vice president of engineering for the tech giant.

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