Google’s artificial intelligence team building on critical race theory, documents show

Google’s artificial intelligence team building on critical race theory, documents show
AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, FILE
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Google’s artificial intelligence (AI) work builds upon critical race theory, documents show, best described as a form of race essentialism that demands its adherents recognize and identify race-based oppression in every interaction. 

Christopher Rufo, an independent journalist spearheading efforts against race essentialist indoctrination describes critical race theory as "an academic discipline that holds that the United States is a nation founded on white supremacy and oppression and that these forces are still at the root of our society. Critical race theorists believe that American institutions, such as the Constitution and legal system, preach freedom and equality, but are mere 'camouflages' for naked racial domination. They believe that racism is a constant, universal condition: it simply because more subtle, sophisticated, and insidious over the course of history."

A screenshot of an internal company page, obtained by the Daily Wire shows under the title “Ethical AI”:

We focus on AI at the intersection of Machine Learning and society, developing projects that inform the general public; bringing the complexities of individual identity into the development of human-centric AI; and creating ways to measure different kinds of biases and stereotypes. Out [sic] work includes lessons from gender studies, critical race theory, computational linguistics, computer vision, engineering education, and beyond!

In 2020-2021, main focus area include:

  • Data: Histories, Lifecycles, Ethics of collection and usage.
  • Personal identity: Gender, Race, LGBTQ+, and all of the intertwined complexities relevant to ML models.
  • Diversity and Inclusion: Everything from who’s at the table to how this can be modeled in ML systems to how to evaluate for it.

Google’s Ethical AI team appears insistent on encoding the far-left ideology into its algorithms, even after previous team leaders plunged the section into chaos over their insistence on pushing progressive politics onto mathematics. 

Until recently, the team was co-led by Timnit Gebru, who helped create a “Black in AI” racial affinity group and in 2018 co-authored a paper saying facial recognition technology was less accurate at recognizing women and minorities.

She also demanded information from Google’s self-driving car company about how skin colour affected its technology to detect pedestrians, which led to “legal haggling.”

In 2020, Gebru threatened to resign from her position unless Google dropped its objections to a paper she wrote, which seemed to argue that AI technologists should settle for inferior language models because the initial training of a major model like Google’s used electricity equivalent to the carbon emissions of five cars, Technology Review reported in December.

Credit: Daily Wire

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Her paper also reportedly states that the danger of training a language model on large bodies of text was that overseers would be not able to check everything the model read to be sure that it did not read anything racist. 

Last year, conflict broke out with Google management over the paper, Gebru penned an email blasting “micro and macro aggressions” and “zero accountability,” according to a copy of the email obtained by Platformer.

Soon after the conflict, Jeff Dean, the head of the broader AI team, wrote that “Timnit Gebru is no longer working at Google.”

Deans’ email, which was obtained by Platformer, stated that Gebru's paper had “raised concerns about bias in language models, but didn’t take into account recent research to mitigate these issues.” It also noted that Gebru had demanded the names of every manager who helped come to the decision that the paper should not be approved, saying that she would quit if the company did not turn over the information to her. The company then accepted her resignation. 

In February, the team’s other co-lead Margaret Mitchell was fired for writing a program to search through her emails looking for evidence of discrimination about Gebru, according to the Verge.

Mitchell had previously made a complaint to Dean that she was denied promotion due to the “nebulous complaints to HR about her personality,” the Verge reported.

Dean claimed he did not believe there was a pattern of giving worse jobs to women than men. 

Despite the departure of its far-left activist co-founders, employees cut from the same cloth remained. According to CNBC, they penned in a six-page letter to Google’s CEO that “Google’s short-sighted decision to fire and retaliate against a core member of the Ethical AI team makes it clear that we need swift and structural changes if this work is to continue, and if the legitimacy of the field as a whole is to persevere.”

Gebru “and Meg Mitchell had cultivated a diverse, productive team which thrived in a psychologically safe environment. Offering Timnit her position back at a higher level would go a long way to help re-establish trust and rebuild our team environment,” the letter stated.

In February, the Ethical AI team was reorganized to report to Marian Croak, who leads a “black leadership group” at Google.

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