A graphic with the words “The Future Must Be Ethical: #MakeAIEthical”

Google has chosen to dismantle its AI ethics work, making it clear that the company will only tolerate research that supports its bottom line. This is a matter of urgent public concern.

We stand in solidarity with Dr. Margaret Mitchell, a world-leading AI researcher who until recently led the most diverse team at Google Research, the Ethical AI team. She is the latest casualty of Google’s attack on AI ethics.

Three months after abruptly firing, publicly disparaging, and gaslighting the co-lead of Google’s Ethical AI team, Dr. Timnit Gebru, Google has now fired Dr. Margaret Mitchell, the team’s founder. …

We’re setting the record straight on Dr. Timnit Gebru’s firing.

Timnit wearing a red patterned scarf and a grey sweater, speaking on stage.
AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru. (Kimberly White/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

Did Dr. Gebru resign?

Dr. Gebru did not resign, despite what Jeff Dean (Senior Vice President and head of Google Research), has publicly stated. Dr. Gebru has stated this plainly, and others have meticulously documented it. Dr.Gebru detailed conditions she hoped could be met. Those conditions were for 1) transparency around who was involved in calling for the retraction of the paper, 2) having a series of meetings with the Ethical AI team, and 3) understanding the parameters of what would be acceptable research at Google. She then requested a longer conversation regarding the details to occur post-vacation. In response…

Dr. Timnit Gebru, wearing a black turtle neck and looking off to the side.

We, the undersigned, stand in solidarity with Dr. Timnit Gebru, who was terminated from her position as Staff Research Scientist and Co-Lead of Ethical Artificial Intelligence (AI) team at Google, following unprecedented research censorship. We call on Google Research to strengthen its commitment to research integrity and to unequivocally commit to supporting research that honors the commitments made in Google’s AI Principles.

Until December 2, 2020, Dr. Gebru was one of very few Black women Research Scientists at the company, which boasts a dismal 1.6% Black women employees overall. Her research accomplishments are extensive, and have profoundly impacted academic scholarship…

Three of the fired Google organizers standing against a colorful backdrop.
Three of the four fired Google organizers.

We come from different offices. We have different roles, managers, and life stories. What brought us all together is that we’ve stepped up to help organize our colleagues, to work together for a better, safer, fairer, and more ethical workplace.

Google explicitly encourages us to pursue exactly these goals. The company’s code of conduct states unequivocally: “don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right — speak up!” And we did.

We spoke up when we saw Google making unethical business decisions that create a workplace that is harmful to us and our colleagues. We participated…

The rally on 11/22 in defense of workers placed on leave. Those workers and two others were later fired.

Four of our colleagues took a stand and organized for a better workplace. This is explicitly condoned in Google’s Code of Conduct, which ends: “​​​​​​​And remember… don’t be evil, and if you see something that you think isn’t right — speak up.”

When they did, Google retaliated against them. Today, after putting two of them on sudden and unexplained leave, the company fired all four in an attempt to crush worker organizing.

Here’s how it went down: Google hired a union-busting firm. Around the same time Google redrafted its policies, making it a fireable offense to even look at certain…

A teal background with the words “Social Media for Social Movements: Lessons Learned from #GoogleWalkout” in white.

#GoogleWalkout went viral, trending around the world and still being covered by international media one year later. On the day of the walkout, we reached 3.2 million impressions just on @GoogleWalkout’s tweets alone.

In the year since, workplace organizing in tech has seen incredible growth. We’ve been so inspired by additional actions at other companies, and often get asked for a list of best practices in this space.

With that in mind, here are the social media guidelines that have helped make #GoogleWalkout a success. There are 11 guidelines, all keeping with three main “golden rules.” If you take just three things away from this guide, make it these tips:

Logos: #GoogleWalkout, anti-Project Maven, Real Change Not Retaliation, #StandAgainstTransphobia, #NoPrideInYT, #NoGCPforCBP
Logos representing eight of the last major campaigns run by Google employees pushing back on unethical decisionmaking at the company.

A year ago today, at 11:10am local time, more than 20,000 Google workers walked out around the world, starting in Tokyo and Singapore and moving West. We were protesting misogyny, racism, unethical decision making, and systemic inequity.

Since then, a movement has grown, at Google and across tech.

While worker dissent and labor organizing were happening well before, the Walkout was the first time we showed real power. Thousands of people stepped up to contribute, with hundreds of local organizers taking the lead.

Since then, organizing has spread. Workers campaigned to end forced arbitration (and won for full time workers!)…

In April, two of the organizers of the Google Walkout, Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton, came forward with the stories of the retaliation they’ve faced as a result of speaking out at the company. Claire left Google in Juneyesterday was Meredith’s last day.

Here’s the note she shared internally:

July 10th was my 13-year Google anniversary, and today is my last day.

My experience at Google shaped who I am and the path I’m on. It’s hard to overstate how grateful I am for the teachers, mentors, and friends along the way, or how surreal this moment is. …

In April, two of the organizers of the Google Walkout, Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton, came forward with the stories of the retaliation they’ve faced as a result of speaking out at the company. Claire left Google this week. Here’s the note she shared internally to mark her last day:

I have such a simple, pure nostalgia around the years I spent at Google in Mountain View, 2007–2012, that it almost figures in my mind like a childhood — a blur of grass and sun. I used to go out of my way to check out a weekly dodgeball game…

The Walkout was a turning point: a moment where Googlers called on the company to do right by its people. We issued a clear, articulate, and actionable set of demands. Google has had six months to meet these demands: in that time, they’ve partially met only one of them. Not only that, but the company has begun retaliating against some of the Walkout organizers.

Google seems to have lost its mooring, and trust between workers and the company is deeply broken. As the company progresses from crisis to crisis, it is clear Google management is failing, along with HR. It’s…

Google Walkout For Real Change

#GoogleWalkout 11/1 11:10am to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace that doesn’t work for everyone. Views ≠ Google.

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