Google Fires Ethical Artificial Intelligence Leader Over Email to Allies

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Timnit Gebru, a renowned artificial intelligence computer scientist at Google says she was abruptly fired on Wednesday after emailing coworkers who are allies.

In a series of Twitter posts, Gebru says she was fired by Google’s head of AI, Jeff Dean, after emailing her colleagues in an internal group called Google Brain Women and Allies.

Gebru did not share what she emailed to her coworkers, but says Dean claimed the message “to non-management employees in the brain group reflect[s] behavior that is inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager.”

“He didn’t like my email to a mailing list for women & allies at brain. And he might make even more of an example of me moving forward. Stay tuned,” Gebru tweeted.

Gebru, an Ethiopian American who was the co-leader of the Ethical AI Team at Google, actively advocates for diversity in technology and is the co-founder of Black in AI, an organization designed to increase representation of Black people in the industry, CNBC reports.

Since Gebru came forward about her termination, several people both within and out of the tech industry have come to her defense. 

“In case you’re wondering why people are up in arms about ⁦[Timnit Gebru’s]⁩ dismissal from Google, it’s because she was working on some of the biggest societal questions facing the tech industry,” New York Times technology reporter, Daisuke Wakabayashi tweeted on Thursday.

Gebru does not support law enforcement use of facial recognition software due to inaccuracies, misuse, and over reliance, according to a June New York Times report

Gerbru says she needs to be “very careful” since her tweets can be used against her and “needs a lawyer ASAP.”