Google AI scientist who arranged walkout leaves business

Google Walkout Me Too Protest

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Another organizer of in 2015’s Google walkouts obviously left the business.

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A Google AI scientist who was amongst the leaders of last November’s “unprecedented” walkout has actually left the business, Google validated by means of e-mail. Meredith Whittaker’s departure, formerly reported by Bloomberg, follows fellow organizer Claire Stapleton leaving in June. Both declared that the search huge struck back versus them in the wake of the demonstrations.

The 2018 demonstrations saw 20,000 Google staff members leave of the business’s workplaces internationally to object how it managed sexual attack claims directed at essential executives. 

“Today is @mer__edith’s final day at Google. Watching her experience as a whistleblower at Google and a victim of retaliation cannot signal good things for how AI institutions will react to negative criticism. #NotOkGoogle,” Google software application engineer Chris Lu tweeted Monday.


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Whittaker’s internal farewell note, published on Medium, called the situation “surreal.”

“The reasons I’m leaving aren’t a mystery. I’m committed to the AI Now Institute, to my AI ethics work, and to organizing for an accountable tech industry — and it’s clear Google isn’t a place where I can continue this work,” she wrote. “This has been hard to accept, since this work urgently needs doing.”

Whittaker added that the way Google uses the vast power it has amassed in the AI space is “one of the most urgent social and political (and yes, technical) questions of our time.”

“Addressing these problems, and making sure AI is just, accountable, and safe, will require serious structural change to how technology is developed and how tech corporations are run,” she wrote. Some of the changes she suggests include unionizing, protecting whistleblowers and conscientious objectors, demanding to know what you’re working on and how it’s going to be used, and building solidarity with people beyond those in your company.

Whittaker led Google’s Open Research program and co-founded New York University’s AI Now Institute. She alleged that Google asked her to give up the latter role in March after the company disbanded its AI ethics board amid controversy over one of its members.

Google workers haven’t been shy about speaking out against their employer. They’ve also protested its military contracts, work in China and the treatment of temporary workers and contractors.

The company declined to add comment.

First published at 3:21 a.m. PT on July 16.
Updated at 5:30 a.m. PT: Adds Google confirmation; Updated at 11:11 a.m. PT: Adds farewell note from Whittaker.