Mitchell, an ethical artificial intelligence (Al) expert who has previously worked on machine learning bias, race and gender diversity, and language models for image capture, was hired by Google to co-lead the firm’s Ethical Al team with Gebru a post that has lasted roughly two years, as noted by Reuters. On Friday, Mitchell announced her departure in a tweet, simply saying “I’m fired.”
Google said in a statement that following a review, “we confirmed that there were multiple violations of our code of conduct, as well as of our security policies, which included the exfiltration of confidential business-sensitive documents and private data of other employees.”
Mitchell has been the subject of an investigation by Google and was locked out of her corporate account for roughly five weeks. Reports suggest that the scientist may have been looking for correspondence and evidence relating to Gebru’s removal. Gebru, the other lead Al researcher, left Google in December.
Gebru claimed that she was fired due to her criticism of Google for “silencing marginalized voices” and her status as a co-author of a research paper urging tech giants to make sure AI language systems do not promote gender bias. Google claimed the Al expert resigned.
The ousting of the Al expert caused an uproar among thousands of Google staffers, and Gebru supporters claimed that she “faced defensiveness, racism, gaslighting, research censorship, and now a retaliatory firing.” “The termination is an act of retaliation against Dr. Gebru, and it heralds danger for people working for ethical and just Al — especially Black people and People of Color — across Google,”
the post reads. Mitchell has previously criticized the situation, saying in a public letter that “the firing seems to have been fueled by the same underpinnings of racism and sexism that our Al systems, when in the wrong hands, tend to soak up.”
According to a memo seen by Axios, Google Al head Jeff Dean also apologized for the way Gebru’s departure was dealt with, saying that “we could have and should have handled this situation with more sensitivity.”
By Charlie Osborne