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.
— MMitchell (@mmitchell_ai) February 19, 2021
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.
Meg Mitchell, lead of the Ethical AI team has been fired. She got an email to her personal email. After locking her out for 5 weeks.
There are many words I can say right now. I'm glad to know that people don't fall for any of their bull.
To the VPs at google, I pity you.
— Timnit Gebru (@timnitGebru) February 19, 2021
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.”