According to the latest news, Google is investigating artificial intelligence researcher Margaret Mitchell, who co-leads the company’s Ethical AI team. The company has locked her corporate account. This was first reported by Axios. A few months back, another prominent AI ethicist, Timnit Gebru was fired by the company. According to a tweet from Gebru, Mitchell’s account has been locked for “at least a few days” but she is not yet fired.
Google said in a statement that it was investigating Mitchell after its systems detected an account had “exfiltrated thousands of files and shared them with multiple external accounts.”
As per reports, Mitchell had been using a script to go through her messages, finding examples of discriminatory treatment of Gebru.
Last week, Mitchell tweeted that she was documenting “current critical issues from [Gebru’s] firing, point by point, inside and outside work.”
On 15th January 2021, Mitchell tweeted ”Just after midnight. Hit 10 pages documenting current critical issues from @timnitGebru ‘s firing, point by point, inside and outside work. For Jeff Dean and whoever might actually read it (no one?). Wistfully remembering when I used to do research.” From her official Twitter handle, MMitchell (@mmitchell_ai).
According to Google, its security systems automatically lock corporate employee accounts “when they detect that the account is at risk of compromise due to credential problems or when an automated rule involving the handling of sensitive data has been triggered. We explained this to the employee earlier today. We are actively investigating this matter as part of standard procedures to gather additional details.”
In a retweet, on 20th January 2021, Gebru posted “She’s not fired **yet**. But apparently they’ve told her she will be locked out for at least a few days. https://t.co/H1ibkgNQHM” from his official Twitter handle, Timnit Gebru (@timnitGebru).
Previously, Mitchell tweeted in support of Gebru and criticized Google and other big tech companies for their approaches to diversity and systematic bias. Yesterday she tweeted to criticize Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s approach towards workplace diversity. Google already faced widespread criticism when Gebru left the company.