A recent report from Reuters states that Google has asked its staff to “keep a positive tone” and undergo reviews for researching on different “sensitive topics.”
Google is getting a lot of heat for keeping a researcher out whose work warned of bias in AI. This is a good step taken by the company as it was recently fined heavily for inconsistent ad rules.
Reuters cited the researchers at the company and internal documents. It reported that Google has used new controls in the last year, including an inspection round for papers on different topics. It definitely seems like interference at the later stages of research.
This has been the situation with Dr. Timnit Gebru. He is an AI researcher at Google who has been forced to resign under difficult circumstances. She came into conflict about the kind of work she and her team was doing.
According to the Reuters Web page, the most sensitive topics are: “the oil industry, Iran, Israel, China, insurance, religion, self-driving vehicles, home security, COVID-19, systems, and telecoms that personalize the Web content.”
It is obvious that these issues are quite sensitive. However, advising the researchers to take care seems strange considering the presence of the ethics board, peer reviews, and other controls on research. A researcher warned that this kind of interference could soon get the company into the “biggest problem of censorship.”
This is other than the vital research which the company has done that might not be their interest to publish. All the large private institutions have existed as long as a scientific endeavor. However, companies like Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google have a big influence on different aspects of technology. These include things such as AI and other tech-related stuff.
Currently, Google and Gebru haven’t commented on the story. However, the Google CEO has stated that the company will review the events that lead up to the departure of Dr. Timnit Gebru.
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