Google Investigates Ethical AI Team Member Accessing Thousands of Sensitive Files in Science & Tech News


Google is investigating a member of its Ethical AI team after it was found to have taken thousands of sensitive files from its servers and shared the information with external accounts.

The investigation follows the forced exit of Timnit Gebru, a black woman and prominent researcher on the team, whose departure sparked controversy GoogleAttitude to employees with an ethnic minority.

A colleague of Ms. Gebru, Margaret Mitchell, “had used automated scripts to search her messages and find examples showing discriminatory treatment of Gebru.” Axios reported.

In a statement sent to Axios, Google confirmed the investigation.

“Our security systems automatically lock an employee’s corporate account if they discover that the account is compromised due to a credential problem or if an automated rule for handling sensitive data has been triggered,” it said.

“In this case, our systems detected yesterday that one account exfiltrated thousands of files and shared them with multiple external accounts. We explained this to the employee earlier today.”

The exact manner in which Ms. Gebru was leaving is controversial.

The researcher and her colleagues claimed she was fired, while Google executives said they had accepted her offer to resign. Ms. Gebru replied that she had not offered to resign, but only threatened.

The inspiration for the controversy was a paper jointly written by Ms. Gebru on the risks of AI, including prejudice and the environmental impact of developing the technology.

She claimed that she had been asked by Google to withdraw the paper. Jeff Dean, the company’s director of AI research, said the company believes the paper ignores relevant research aimed at mitigating many of the risks described.

In a memo circulated internally at Google in December, the company’s executive director Sundar Pichai said he had been investigating how Ms. Gebru was treated at the company, although the results of that investigation had not yet been released

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