Member of Google's disbanded AI ethics team claims she faces retaliation for walkout

Meredith Whittaker, a research scientist at New York City's NYU, an expert in the ethics of artificial intelligence and the head of Google's Open Research Group, wrote in a letter to other Google employees that she is facing retaliation from the company after helping organize a walkout in November 2018, Wired reports.

In the letter, co-authored with Claire Stapleton, another of the seven walkout organizers and marketing manager of Google-owned YouTube, Ms. Whittaker wrote that after Google disbanded its AI ethics council earlier this month, she was told that her role at the company "would be changed dramatically." She claimed that, in order to keep her job, she will have to stop her work on AI ethics, including with the AI Now Institute, a research center she co-founded at NYU.

Ms. Whittaker and Ms. Stapleton invited coworkers to a Retaliation Town Hall on April 26 "to share our stories and strategize." "If we want to stop discrimination, harassment and unethical decision-making, we need to end retaliation against the people who speak honestly about these problems," they wrote, referring to the purpose of the initial walkout: to protest Google's handling of sexual harassment claims.

In a statement to Wired, a Google spokesperson said, "We prohibit retaliation in the workplace and investigate all allegations. Employees and teams are regularly and commonly given new assignments, or reorganized, to keep pace with evolving business needs. There has been no retaliation here."

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