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Timnit Gebru is part of a wave of Black women working to change AI

  • 5 mths ago

A computer scientist who said she was pushed out of her job at Google in December 2020 has marked the one-year anniversary of her ouster with a new research institute aiming to support the creation of ethical artificial intelligence. 

Timnit Gebru, a known advocate for diversity in AI, announced the launch of the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute, or DAIR. Its website describes it as “a space for independent, community-rooted AI research free from Big Tech’s pervasive influence.”

Part of how Gebru imagines creating such research is by moving away from the Silicon Valley ethos of “move fast and break things” — which was Facebook’s internal motto, coined by Mark Zuckerberg, until 2014 — to instead take a more deliberate approach to creating new technologies that serve marginalized communities. That includes recognizing and mitigating technologies’ potentials for harm from the beginning of their creation process, rather than after they’ve already caused damage to those communities, Gebru told NBC News.

“If those are our values, we can’t achieve them without slowing down and without putting in more resources per project that we’re working on,” she said. 

Gebru said she learned from a December 2020 email from her manager’s manager that she had apparently resigned from her high-profile position as a co-lead of Google’s ethical AI team.

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