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This article was published on February 19, 2021

Google fired Margaret Mitchell, its Ethical AI Team founder

Google fired Margaret Mitchell, its Ethical AI Team founder
Tristan Greene
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Tristan Greene

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Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him Tristan covers human-centric artificial intelligence advances, politics, queer stuff, cannabis, and gaming. Pronouns: He/him

Google has evidently fired the founder and co-lead of its Ethical AI team, Margaret Mitchell.

This comes after weeks of being locked out of her work accounts over an investigation related to Mitchell’s objections concerning the controversial firing of her fellow co-lead Timnit Gebru.

According to a Google spokesperson, the investigation into Mitchell concerned alleged sharing of internal company files:

Our security systems automatically lock an employee’s corporate account when they detect that the account is at risk of compromise due to credential problems or when an automated rule involving the handling of sensitive data has been triggered. In this instance, yesterday our systems detected that an account had exfiltrated thousands of files and shared them with multiple external accounts. We explained this to the employee earlier today.

The firing of Timnit Gebru sent shockwaves throughout the AI community. It’s been widely viewed as a move to remove voices of dissent when those voices, world renowned ethicists hired specifically to investigate and oversee the ethical development and deployment of Google’s AI systems, don’t say what the company wants to hear.

Details are still coming in, but it appears as though Mitchell’s been let go as the result of Google’s investigation.

Update 2:38PM PST 19 February: Google’s official statement on the matter, per this Axios article:

“After conducting a review of this manager’s conduct, 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.”

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