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Timnit Gebru: The #TigrayGenocide With 500,000 People Dead Should Have Made Front-Page News

Posted by addisethiopia / አዲስ ኢትዮጵያ on May 7, 2022

💭 ትምኒት ገብሩ፤ 500,000 ሰዎች የሞቱበት የትግራይ የዘር ማጥፋት ወንጀል ሰፊ ትኩረት አግኝቶ የፊት ገጽ ዜና መስራት ነበረበት

💭 Timnit Gebru Founder and Executive Director of the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR) at UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Day Global Conference 2022.

500,000 Tigrayan Christians were Massacred or Starved to death under 500 days by The Fascist Oromo Regime of Ethiopia – but, the world is still ignoring this devastating tragedy. The coverage of Ukraine has revealed a pretty radical disparity in how human Ukrainians look and feel to western and international – including African media compared to black Ethiopians Christians. 😠😠😠 😢😢😢

💭 Timnit Gebru, a widely respected leader in AI ethics research, is known for coauthoring a groundbreaking paper that showed facial recognition to be less accurate at identifying women and people of color, which means its use can end up discriminating against them. She also cofounded the Black in AI affinity group, and champions diversity in the tech industry. The team she helped build at Google is one of the most diverse in AI and includes many leading experts in their own right. Peers in the field envied it for producing critical work that often challenged mainstream AI practices.

A series of tweets, leaked emails, and media articles showed that Gebru’s exit was the culmination of a conflict over another paper she coauthored. Jeff Dean, the head of Google AI, told colleagues in an internal email (which he has since put online) that the paper “didn’t meet our bar for publication” and that Gebru had said she would resign unless Google met a number of conditions, which it was unwilling to meet. Gebru tweeted that she had asked to negotiate “a last date” for her employment after she got back from vacation. She was cut off from her corporate email account before her return.

Online, many other leaders in the field of AI ethics are arguing that the company pushed her out because of the inconvenient truths that she was uncovering about a core line of its research—and perhaps its bottom line. More than 1,400 Google staff members and 1,900 other supporters have also signed a letter of protest.

💭 Another Firing Among Google’s A.I. Brain Trust, and More Discord

The researchers are considered a key to the company’s future. But they have had a hard time shaking infighting and controversy over a variety of issues.

Less than two years after Google dismissed two researchers who criticized the biases built into artificial intelligence systems, the company has fired a researcher who questioned a paper it published on the abilities of a specialized type of artificial intelligence used in making computer chips.

Dr. Chatterjee’s dismissal was the latest example of discord in and around Google Brain, an A.I. research group considered to be a key to the company’s future. After spending billions of dollars to hire top researchers and create new kinds of computer automation, Google has struggled with a wide variety of complaints about how it builds, uses and portrays those technologies.

Tension among Google’s A.I. researchers reflects much larger struggles across the tech industry, which faces myriad questions over new A.I. technologies and the thorny social issues that have entangled these technologies and the people who build them.

But even as Google has promoted the technology’s potential, it has encountered resistance from employees about its application. In 2018, Google employees protested a contract with the Department of Defense, concerned that the company’s A.I. could end up killing people. Google eventually pulled out of the project.

In December 2020, Google fired one of the leaders of its Ethical A.I. team, Timnit Gebru, after she criticized the company’s approach to minority hiring and pushed to publish a research paper that pointed out flaws in a new type of A.I. system for learning languages.

Before she was fired, Dr. Gebru was seeking permission to publish a research paper about how A.I.-based language systems, including technology built by Google, may end up using the biased and hateful language they learn from text in books and on websites. Dr. Gebru said she had grown exasperated over Google’s response to such complaints, including its refusal to publish the paper.

A few months later, the company fired the other head of the team, Margaret Mitchell, who publicly denounced Google’s handling of the situation with Dr. Gebru. The company said Dr. Mitchell had violated its code of conduct.

The paper in Nature, published last June, promoted a technology called reinforcement learning, which the paper said could improve the design of computer chips. The technology was hailed as a breakthrough for artificial intelligence and a vast improvement to existing approaches to chip design. Google said it used this technique to develop its own chips for artificial intelligence computing.

Source: NYtimes

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