Google has fired the head of an ethics research team at the company. Researcher Margaret Mitchell herself announces this on Twitter.
Mitchell collaborated with other scientists on ethical issues surrounding artificial intelligence. According to her and co-researcher Timnit Gebru, diversity and inclusion were far below par at Google. They also feared the company would censor their investigation.
Google promised the researchers that they would be free to proceed. But that promise seems to be under pressure now that the researchers have also started publishing about the negative effects of Google’s technology and products.
Last December, researcher Timnit Gebru left the company, saying she was fired for questioning Google’s decision not to publish its research. That research was about how translation machines adopt or even exacerbate bias in language. Hundreds of Google employees protested the dismissal.
Margaret Mitchell, who now has to leave the field, does not want to elaborate on her dismissal. According to Google, she extracted documents from the digital business environment. That is against company security rules. A direct colleague of Mitchell and Gebru says Google is running a smear campaign against the two.