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Nothing to See Here: Google Glosses Over AI Troubles With New Lead

Google has appointed a new head of its responsible AI research in the wake of the high-profile firing of Dr. Timnit Gebru and action against Margaret Mitchell....
Nothing to See Here: Google Glosses Over AI Troubles With New Lead
Written by Matt Milano
  • Google has appointed a new head of its responsible AI research in the wake of the high-profile firing of Dr. Timnit Gebru and action against Margaret Mitchell.

    Google has went from one bad decision to another with its AI team. Things started when the company fired Dr. Timnit Gebru, all the while claiming she resigned. At the heart of the issue was the company taking exception with a research paper Gebru had co-authored that was critical of some of the AI Google uses.

    Gebru’s firing was met with condemnation, both form inside and outside the company. CEO Sundar Pichai sent an email to Google employees that was widely criticized as being tone-deaf and failing to address the underlying issues.

    The company then took action against Margaret Mitchell, locking out her access. Mitchell had been a vocal supporter of Gebru and voiced her own criticism of Google’s actions. Multiple engineers have since quit, citing the company’s dealings with Gebru Mitchell as the reason.

    Google seems eager to put the whole fiasco behind it, and has appointed Dr. Marian Croak to lead its responsible AI research division. Unfortunately for the company, Croak’s appointment is being seen as another example of being tone-deaf. Since Croak is a Black woman, her appointment is being taken as a transparent way to dismiss accusations of misogyny and racism…by putting a Black woman in charge of Gebru’s team.

    Gebru also voiced her frustration that a Black woman was participating in the legitimization of Google’s actions.

    In our initial coverage of this situation we said: “It goes without saying that Google is providing a case study in how not to handle this kind of situation.”

    It’s amazing that, two and a half months later, the company is continuing to demonstrate what not to do.

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