Google research staff expresses concern that the company was starting to censor papers critical of its products.
We doubt whether Google pays scientists to be openly critical of products or ideas developed by employees without prior approval.
Alphabet Inc’s Google fired staff scientist Margaret Mitchell on Friday. The company in December dismissed AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru.
Some people are claiming that Google is using internal censorship to silence some of their scientists’ opinions.
Alphabet-Google said Margaret Mitchell was fired because she violated its code of conduct and security policies by moving electronic files outside the company.
The dismissal of Gebru prompted thousands of Google workers to protest. She and Mitchell had called for greater diversity and inclusion among Google’s research staff and expressed concern that the company was starting to censor papers critical of its products.
Gebru said Google fired her after questioning an order not to publish a study saying AI that mimics language could hurt marginalized populations. Mitchell, a co-author of the paper, publicly criticized the company for firing Gebru and undermining her work’s credibility.
Google has recruited top scientists with promises of research freedom. The limits are still tested as researchers increasingly write about technology’s adverse effects and offer unflattering perspectives on their employer’s products.
Mitchell publicly expressed concern that the policy could lead to censorship. Google reiterated to researchers in a memo and meeting on Friday that it improved the pre-publication review of papers. It also announced new policies on Friday to handle sensitive departures and evaluate executives based on team diversity and inclusion. Source: Reuters.
We are not privy to the facts in this case. But if Mitchell wrongfully caused electronic files to be removed from outside the company, she deserves to be fired. Also, we doubt whether Google pays scientists to be publically critical of products or ideas developed by employees without prior approval.