Timnit Gebru

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Two of Google’s most prominent researchers into AI ethics had flagged issues around sexual harassment and bullying long before they were fired from the company, Bloomberg reported.

Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, once chief AI ethicists at the tech giant, made headlines when they were ousted from the company in December 2020 and February this year respectively. 

According to Bloomberg, the pair raised a number of concerns with senior management over the behavior of some colleagues in 2018, years before they were themselves kicked out.

Bloomberg outlined a litany of complaints by the pair to senior figures within Google.

In one instance, Gebru reportedly informed her superiors that a colleague, whose identity remains undisclosed, had previously been accused of sexual harassment at another company. Google said that it subsequently opened an investigation.

According to the report, both Gebru and Mitchell told the firm’s AI chief Jeff Dean about this colleague’s past behavior. They also discussed their fears of gender disparity among senior employees, including a “pattern of women being excluded and undermined” on the AI research team, and a number of women employees being assigned lower roles than less-qualified men. 

The allegations came in mid-2018, just as new details of sexual misconduct allegations against former Android chief Andy Rubin emerged, which prompted a walkout staged by almost 20,000 Googlers worldwide. Rubin has denied all allegations of misconduct against him. 

“I did not go into it thinking this is a great place,” Gebru said in an interview with Bloomberg.

“There were a number of women who sat me down and talked to me about their experiences with people, their experiences with harassment, their experiences with bullying, their experiences with trying to talk about it and how they were dismissed.”

However, Dean reportedly pushed back against the idea there was any systemic misogyny within …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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