Google probes ethical AI employee over handling of sensitive information
February 26, 2021
Tech

Google probes ethical AI employee over handling of sensitive information

NEW YORK (US) – Alphabet Inc’s Google is probing a member of its ethical AI team and has blocked the corporate account linked to that person. This comes after the firm found that thousands of files were retrieved from its server and shared with external accounts, said the firm on Wednesday.

Axios, which first reported the probe centred around a member of the AI team, said Margaret Mitchell had been using automated scripts to analyse her messages in a bid to find examples revealing discriminatory treatment of Timnit Gebru, a former employee in the AI team who was sacked.

Gebru, a Black, was a top AI ethics researcher at the firm. She was sacked in December. On the other hand, she claimed she was fired for criticising the diversity initiatives within the AI unit, a charge which the company disputes.

“Our security systems automatically lock an employee’s corporate account when they detect that the account is at risk of compromise due to credential problems or when an automated rule involving the handling of sensitive data has been triggered,” said a Google representative.

“We are actively investigating this matter as part of standard procedures to gather additional details.”

Employees have questioned Google’s diversity efforts, adding to years of angst, including several resignations and terminations in the department.

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