Google fires second ethics researcher
Updated: 2 days ago
Margaret Mitchell founded Google's ethics and artificial intelligence research team. This Friday, February 19, she announced that she was "fired", a month after her suspension that had already earned criticism at the Mountain View firm.Do Ethics in artificial intelligence have a place at Google? The question is inevitable after the second dismissal in a few weeks at the American digital giant.
"After reviewing this director's behavior, we confirmed that there have been multiple violations of our code of conduct, as well as our safety regulations, including the exfiltration of sensitive confidential documents and private data on other employees," a spokesman for the California group told AFP.
In January, Margaret Mitchell was denied access to her professional account, weeks after Timnit Gebru, a member of her team, was fired. "These are attacks on people who are trying to make Google's technology more ethical," a spokesman for Alphabet Workers Union, the group's newest employee union reacted.
Google blames the ethics and artificial intelligence researcher for downloading a large number of documents related to her former colleague and then sharing them with third parties.
On January 19, two days before her suspension, Margaret Mitchell publicly criticized the group's executive director, Sundar Pichai, on the issue of racism. "Let's say you have a problem because you keep alienating black women and causing them significant harm," the computer scientist tweeted a link to a CNN article titled "Google boss meets black university leaders after accusations of racism."
"You can: a) try to right your wrongs; B) trying to find more black people to appreciate you (the symbolic and superficial approach), good luck... "she wrote
Last December, more than 1,400 Google employees, and nearly 2,000 others signed a letter calling on the company to explain why Timnit Gebru was fired and why she was forced to make a retraction. They also called on Alphabet to make an "unequivocal" commitment to research integrity and academic freedom.
On Thursday, Google announced that Marian Croak, an African-American vice president of the group, had created "a new center of expertise on responsible AI" within Google's search arm. According to the statement, she will be responsible for " ensuring that Google develops AI responsibly and that the technology has a positive impact."
Algorithms are being accused by many associations of having perverse effects in different areas if they are not well calibrated, especially in terms of discrimination against minorities.