Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Inside the Google employee backlash against the Heritage Foundation
When Google announced an external advisory board for AI projects last week, the company framed the decision as a step forward in accountability. Last year, the company had announced a set of principles for how to build AI tools, and this board, the company suggested, was the next step toward a more transparent Google.
But some members of the new board drew immediate scrutiny, especially Kay Coles James, president of the conservative Heritage Foundation. On social media, some characterized the decision as an attempt to cater to conservatives at the expense of true expertise in the field. By Saturday, one AI expert who was invited to the board had dropped out, vaguely noting that it may not be “the right forum” for the work.
Privately, several Google employees were also livid about the decision to include James, according to sources familiar with the discussions. On internal message boards, employees described James as “intolerant” and the Heritage Foundation as “amazingly wrong” in their policies on topics like climate change, immigration, and, particularly, on issues of LGBTQ equality. A person with James’ views, the employees said, “doesn’t deserve a Google-legitimized platform, and certainly doesn’t belong in any conversation about how Google tech should be applied to the world.”
By the end of the day on Tuesday, more than 1,600 Google employees had endorsed the petition, organizers said. Google did not respond to a request for comment.
“By appointing James to the ATEAC, Google elevates and endorses her views, implying that hers is a valid perspective worthy of inclusion in its decision making,” the letter from employees reads. “This is unacceptable.”Read more: https://www.theverge.com/2019/4/1/18290341/google-heritage-foundation-ai-kay-coles-james
What I find breathtaking is the sheer arrogance.
They still haven’t learned; despite the utter humiliation of trying and failing to secure a Democrat victory in 2016, the elitists at Google still think they can indulge their personal prejudices at the expense of their business, and completely disregard the needs of vast numbers of their users, to the extent they don’t want Google management to even pretend to be more inclusive.
[ctm note This story is bizarre enough that one may be skeptical. Because of this, I’ve added supporting links below]