February 22, 2020 – Dr. Margaret Mitchell, founder and co-lead of Google’s Ethical AI research team with Dr. Timnit Gebru, has provided additional information regarding events leading up to her termination, which was announced late Friday afternoon. Dr. Mitchell has confirmed that, before and after Google’s termination of Dr. Gebru, she was vocally raising concerns of race and gender equity at Google, including publicly opposing the mistreatment and firing of her co-lead.
Regarding her own termination from Google, Dr. Mitchell explained: “I tried to use my position to raise concerns about race and gender inequity, and to protest Google’s deeply problematic firing of Dr. Timnit Gebru. To now be fired has been devastating. It’s my hope that speaking out will lead to one more step on the path of ethical AI. ”
Shortly after Dr. Mitchell voiced her concerns that discrimination played a role in Google’s decision to terminate her Black colleague, Google placed Dr. Mitchell on leave and revoked her corporate access, finally firing her on February 19, 2021.
“You seriously have to wonder what kind of message Google is trying to send to its employees of color and their allies. In its policies, the company encourages its employees to speak up. Terminating Dr. Mitchell will have a chilling effect on employees who want to advocate equality and fairness,” said Sharon Vinick of Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP.
“This is not the first Google employee fired shortly after making reports of sex and race discrimination. Google’s actions belie its professed commitment to equality in the workplace, particularly in artificial intelligence,” said LVBH’s Wendy Musell.
Dr. Mitchell is considered an expert in the field of ethics and artificial intelligence and has been widely published. She was the founder of Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence team. In 2015, Dr. Mitchell won one of the first Deep Learning competitions for language generation in the COCO image captioning challenge. She further developed this work within the Seeing AI application for the visually impaired, winning the prestigious Helen Keller award. She has co-organized many workshops on fairness, accountability and transparency in machine learning, co-founded the Ethics in NLP workshop and the WiNLP group within ACL, is in the steering committee of the conference on fairness accountability and transparency in sociotechnical systems, and was Google’s representative for the Partnership on AI in the Fairness, Transparency, and Accountability working group. Dr. Mitchell’s TED talk on the topic of bias in computer vision and NLP has received over a million views, and she has written more than 40 papers, including top-tier conferences for NLP, computer vision, cognitive science, and AI Ethics. Most recently, her work on Model Cards with Google Cloud was recognized in a Harvard Kennedy Spotlight.
Dr. Mitchell attended The John Hopkins University Human Language Technology Center of Excellence as a Postdoctoral researcher and holds a Ph.D. from University of Aberdeen and a Master’s Degree from the University of Washington in Computational Linguistics.
Dr. Mitchell is represented by Sharon Vinick and Wendy Musell of Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP, a law firm devoted to representing employees in workplace disputes. For further information regarding this matter, visit www.levyvinick.com or call Sharon Vinick at 510-318-7702 or Wendy Musell 510-381-6362.