Google AI Researchers have worked for years to establish their position as a responsible steward of AI. Its research lab hires prosperous academics, publishes groundbreaking papers, and steers the agenda at the field’s multitude of conferences. But now the situation has become perplexing as its reputation has been irreversibly damaged.
This all has happened due to the company’s struggle to put a politically palatable face on its empire of data. The company’s decision to fire Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, two of its top AI Researchers has triggered waves of protests. They both used to examine the downsides of technology integral to Google’s search products. Academics have shown its retaliation in various ways. Two AI Researchers backed out of the Google Research workshop, and the third one turned down a lucrative $60,000 grant from the company.
The colleagues of Gebru and Mitchell were astonished by what happened to them at Google. The paper in question examined problems in large-scale AI language that is hindering Google’s lucrative search business. The firings in particular have created an envious environment across the company, and there are accusations that the company is suppressing research. After Gebru was ousted in December, a short-sighted post declaring solidarity with her and criticizing “unprecedented research censorship” by Google.
The company is accustomed to facing such high scrutiny for its alleged non-cooperative behavior with its employees. The AI Researchers have been left perplexed by how Google is poisoning its reputation at the forefront of such a competitive industry.