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Google’s treatment of AI ethics researchers continues to be controversial – TechCrunch




You have landed on the web version of the weekly Human Capital Newsletter.Sign up here and put it in your inbox every Friday at 1:00 pm

Welcome to Human Capital. This week, a lot of things happened related to on-demand companies like Uber, Postmates, DoorDash, Instacart and the workforce of their respective gigs. Meanwhile, the Attorney General of New York attacked Amazon in a proceeding over warehouse labor practices, and Twitter made a new promise to increase diversity at the leadership level by 2025.

But that’s not all. Google has fired another top AI ethicist, Margaret Mitchell. The company also internally published findings on what happened to Dr. Timnit Gebble.

I apologize in advance that it’s a bit longer than a regular newsletter, but it’s all worth knowing, I promise.

Quick Note: Human capital is getting a new name because it seems to be causing confusion. Don’t worry if it arrives in your inbox with a different name next week. The name is undecided.

Indispensable workforce

The new bill aims to regulate Amazon’s warehouses

California State Legislature Lorena Gonzalez, behind Gigworker Bill AB5, has introduced a new law that regulates productivity quotas from companies such as Amazon and Wal-Mart. The bill, called AB 701, aims to better protect warehouse workers by enforcing state-wide standards.

Employees in their warehouses are expected to do more, work faster and harder without clear safety standards, while companies like Amazon are making record profits during the pandemic. Gonzales said in a statement. It is unacceptable for one of the country’s largest and wealthiest employers to endanger a worker’s body and life solely for next-day delivery.

NYAG sues Amazon

New York Attorney General Letitia James has filed a lawsuit against Amazon for failing to provide workers with adequate health and safety measures. As part of the proceedings, James alleges that Amazon retaliated against workers Christian Malles and Derrick Palmer after complaining to Amazon about the company’s lack of support during the COVID-19 pandemic. doing. The proceedings in James came after Amazon filed a preemptive proceeding against her office, claiming that workplace safety was not her authority.

James Statement:

Amazon and its CEO earned billions of dollars during the crisis, but hard-working employees were forced to endure dangerous situations and were retaliated for legitimately expressing these concerns. It was. It’s clear that since the pandemic began, Amazon has focused more on profits than people and has failed to ensure the health and safety of its workers. The workers who have empowered this country and continued to do so during the pandemic are just the worst treated workers. While Amazon strives to take responsibility for its actions, my office is dedicated to protecting New York workers from all forms of exploitation and mistreatment.

Meanwhile, of course, Bessemer’s Amazon warehouse workers are actively trying to form unions. According to this week’s report, Amazon has changed traffic lights as a way to prevent workers from talking effectively to each other.

Former Postmates VP talks about gig economy

Vikrum Aiyer, former vice president of global public policy and strategic communications at Postmates, wrote a note to former colleagues and other stakeholders in the gig economy outlining what they believe should happen next in the industry. I did.

In his letter, Ayer said that the classification of workers, or a gentle adjustment to a single state voting bill, was a permanent response to what Americans were really worried about. Say it’s a mistake to think of making a way: don’t worry about working opportunities, their families taking care of them, and what’s coming next.

Postmate drivers say they have become a prey to scammers

Scammers can target Postmates workers, according to a new report from The Markup. In one example, a scammer stole $ 346.73 from a worker. You can read the full story here.

In related news, Uber, the owner of Postmates, recently hired labor researcher and Uber critic Alex Rosenblat to lead corporate market policy, fairness, and research activities.

Uber drivers demand compensation for the time spent disinfecting PPE and vehicles

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Uber drivers closed Market Street outside Ubers San Francisco headquarters and demanded that the company provide sufficient personal protective equipment. They also want compensation for the time spent disinfecting the vehicle to keep themselves and the rider safe.

Defeated EU Uber lobbying and key battles in the UK for legislation like Proposal 22

Meanwhile, in the EU, Uber is lobbying for criteria like Proposal 22. In a white paper, Uber proposed a new standard for platform work. This standard outlines the need to provide some benefits to workers while avoiding the possibility of collective bargaining between workers. From TC Nata Sharomas:

While the universal standard of platform benefits may sound progressive, the concept of benefits associated with gig workers risks fixing this workforce to a floor far below the agreed standard of employment. There is. Persistent algorithm management.

In the UK, the Supreme Court has ruled that Uber drivers are employees, thus seeking a minimum wage and holiday wages. Also from Lomas:

The proceedings, dating back to 2016, have significant implications for Ubers’ business model (and other gig economy platforms) in the UK and perhaps the region, as similar employment rights issues are underway in European courts.

DoorDash drivers are united to reject low-paying orders

This strategy, reported at Vice, is designed to enhance the driver’s base salary by working together to turn the system into a game.

From the vice:

The basic principle of the official #DECLINENOW movement relies on all drivers within the movement exercising their right to reject lowball offers for higher and more feasible offers using the reject button. Read pinned posts in the main Facebook group. Rejecting a lowball offer raises the base payment for the next driver’s rejected offer as DoorDash’s need to process the order increases. Second, Dashers will increase the number of higher offers, often deliver less with more money, and will cost much more per mile.

Turn work into gig work

Bloomberg had very good characteristics about how the tech industry gig economy is affecting workers in other industries. A must read, here’s a snippet:

Companies in different industries can use the proposed 22 model to undermine or eliminate employment protection. A week after the election, early Uber investor Menlo Ventures partner Shawn Caroran spreads the vision of Proposal 22’s work, from agriculture to animal rearing, to nursing, management assistance, tutoring, programming, and restaurant work. I foretold the possibility. design.

President Biden nominates Jennifer Abruzzo to lead the NLRB as general counsel

Abruzzo is currently a Special Advisor to the Communications Workers of America’s Strategic Initiative. For those unfamiliar, CWA has made a name for itself in the tech industry by helping to integrate technology companies such as Glitch and Alphabet. Her appointment could prove to be very beneficial to both high-tech and gig workers.

In a statement, CWA President Chris Shelton said:

No one has a better understanding of the purpose of the National Labor Relations Board and the National Labor Relations Act than Jennifer Abruzzo. She is a talented lawyer who understands how NLRB’s behavior affects the daily lives of people at work. President Vidence, who chose Jennifer as NLRB’s legal counsel, said that under his watch, the problem affecting working people was to help workers, not union busters as seen during the Trump administration. Shows that it will be processed by people like Jennifer who dedicated. We hope Jennifer’s confirmation process is quick — working people need her to take command of the NLRB more than ever.

Instacart confronting workers again

The company reportedly suspended the worker’s account because it canceled the order. According to Vice, these workers had good reason to cancel some of these orders, for example because of fear of safety or because someone provided the wrong address.

However, Instacart states that it is part of a fraud prevention policy that suspends accounts in the event of suspected fraudulent activity or suspicious activity.

Keep awake

Twitter promises to increase diversity at the leadership level

Twitter has pledged a 25×25 pledge for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. This requires the enterprise to do one of two things:

Increase the number of undervalued employees to 25% of the leadership team by 2025, or increase the number of undervalued people in leadership positions by 25% by 2025.

According to the latest Diversity Report, Twitter’s leadership team currently has 6.5% black, 3.9% Latin, 2.8% multi-ethnic, and less than 1% indigenous.

Investigate pipeline problems

As I talked about last week, I was able to talk with Dr. Joyley Gillankin, a researcher at AI Now, about her work on the myth of pipeline problems in technology. The story also includes insights from Uber’s Chief Diversity Officer Bo Young Lee and Paradigm Director Corri Brady.

You can check it here.

Tech engineer claims sexism and bullying in Mailchimp

Former Mailchimp chief engineer Kelly Ellis quit her job earlier this week, claiming she was paid less than men. “The company has thoroughly and independently investigated the allegations and found it unfounded,” a senior Mailchimp emailer said in an email to employees.

Glassdoor allows you to filter ratings by demographic

Despite corporate efforts to create a fair environment, it is clear that certain demographic employees, such as black women, can have very different experiences. Glassdoor aims to better surface these experiences through new features that allow people to filter ratings by demographics.

Justice Through Code teaches returning citizens how to code

A semester of intensive coding and interpersonal skills at Columbia University, the Justice Through Code aims to provide an alternative path for people to re-enter society.

The program is supported by technology companies such as Amazon Web Services, Coursera, Google and Slack.

Promise raises $ 20 million in Series A round

Promise is a platform that makes it easy to navigate payments for child support, utilities, parking violation tickets, and more, raising $ 20 million in a Series A round. With this round, Promise founder Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins will be one of the few black women to raise over $ 1 million.

Hey, Google … WTF?

Google has fired Margaret Mitchell, the founder and former co-leader of the company’s ethical AI team. Mitchell announced the news in a tweet.

Google confirmed Mitchell’s firing in a statement to TechCrunch, Google said:

After reviewing this manager’s behavior, we confirm that there are multiple violations of our Code of Conduct and security policies, including the disclosure of confidential business documents and personal data of other employees. did.

According to Axios, news of Mitchell’s dismissal arrived shortly after Google announced its findings internally at Gebble’s exit. The company didn’t reveal what it found, but said it would implement some new policies to enhance diversity and inclusiveness at Google.

Google has a new ethical AI lead

Meanwhile, Google has appointed Dr. Marian Croak to lead the responsible artificial intelligence department within Google Research, Bloomberg reported earlier today. Croak was formerly Vice President of Engineering for the company.

In her new role, Croak oversees teams working on accessibility, AI for social benefit, algorithmic fairness in health, brain fairness, ethical AI and more. A shell report to Jeff Dean, SVP of Google AI Research and Health.

TC Session: Justice is coming soon!

It’s been a little over a week since TechCrunch Sessions: Justice on March 3rd. Get $ 5 tickets from people like Arlan Hamilton from Backstage Capital, Christian Smalls, a former Amazon warehouse worker, and Congresswoman Barbara. Lee and others.

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