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Google fires second AI ethics leader in research controversy, expanding diversity

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(Reuters)-Alphabet Incs Google fired staff scientist Margaret Mitchell on Friday, they both said, with academic freedom exhibited since the December dismissal of AI ethics researcher Tim Knitgebull. A move that instigated the company’s divisions on diversity.

File Photo: Google’s sign appears on October 20, 2020 in one of its office buildings in Irvine, California, USA. REUTERS / MikeBlake / File Photo

In a statement, Google said Mitchell violated the company’s code of conduct and security policy by moving electronic files outside the company. Mitchell, who announced his dismissal on Twitter, did not respond to a request for comment.

Google’s ethics in the work of artificial intelligence have been scrutinized since the dismissal of scientist Gebru, who became famous for revealing prejudices in facial analysis systems. The dismissal urged thousands of Google workers to protest. She and Mitchell called for greater diversity and inclusiveness of Google’s research staff and expressed concern that the company was beginning to censor articles that were critical of its products.

Gebru said Google fired her after ordering not to publish research that language-mimicking AI could hurt people left out of society. Mitchell, co-author of the treatise, has publicly criticized the company for dismissing Gebble and undermining the credibility of her work.

The pair co-led an ethical AI team started by Mitchell for about two years.

Google AI research director Zoubin Ghahramani and legal counsel have informed the Mitchells team on Friday that she was fired at a meeting called for a sudden notice, a person familiar with the matter said. The person said there was little explanation for the dismissal. Google declined to comment.

According to the company, the Mitchells firing followed disciplinary recommendations from investigators and the review board. Her breaches include the leakage of confidential business documents and personal data of other employees. The investigation began on January 19th.

Google employee Alex Hannah said on Twitter that she is running a slander campaign against Mitchell and Gebble, who worked closely with her. Google refused to comment on Hannas’ remarks.

Google has hired top-notch scientists who promise research freedom, but limits are tested as researchers write more and more about the negative effects of technology and provide an unpleasant perspective on employers’ products.

Reuters reported exclusively in December, and last year Google introduced a new confidential topic review to prevent papers on topics such as the oil industry and content recommendation systems from getting the company involved in legal issues. did. Mitchell publicly expressed concern that the policy could lead to censorship.

At a memo and meeting on Friday, Google reiterated to researchers working to improve the pre-publication review of the treatise. Also on Friday, we announced a new policy to handle delicate turnover and evaluate executives based on team diversity and inclusiveness.

Report by Palais Dave and Jeffrey Dustin; edited by Cynthia Osterman and Daniel Wallis

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