Google Researcher Fired After Highlighting AI Biases Claims Companies Won’t Self-Regulate Amid AI ‘Gold Rush’

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A former Google researcher has warned that companies in the current AI technology “gold rush” won’t self-regulate. Timnit Gebru, a computer scientist who specializes in artificial intelligence, was the co-lead at Google’s ethical AI team before being abruptly ousted in 2020. Gebru opened up to The Guardian in an interview about her experience and voiced her concerns about the lack of regulation in the industry.

Gebru believes that external pressure needs to be put on companies in order to ensure the ethical implementation of artificial intelligence. She explained that people should remember they have the agency to do better than just follow a profit motive.

The 40-year-old former Google employee had co-authored a research paper in which she and her colleagues pointed out the built-in biases in AI tools. Senior management at Google then asked Gebru to either retract the paper or remove her and her colleagues’ names from it. Gebru declined to do either, and announced that she would only remove the authors’ names if Google made their criticisms clear, which is when she said she was terminated by the company.

Google is one of the largest technology companies in the world, providing cloud computing services, hardware, software, search, and many other products. Founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the company has grown into one of the largest internet companies and is currently ranked third on the Fortune 500 list. Google is known for innovation in artificial intelligence, having developed the Google Duplex technology that enables conversations with computers.

Timnit Gebru has held various roles in the world of technology, including at Microsoft and Apple prior to Google. She specializes in artificial intelligence and was the co-lead of Google’s ethical AI team before her ousting in 2020. Gebru is now a technical co-leader at the non-profit organization OpenAI, working to ensure that AI systems are beneficial to humanity. Her work has been published in several books on artificial intelligence and machine learning, and she has been praised for challenging the development of automated systems and how they are being implemented in various areas.

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