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

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

Gebru said she was pushed out of her job at Google after pointing out how AI has been harmful to people of color. Now she's launching her own research institute.

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. 

the latest tech news, global tech news daily, tech news today, startups, usa tech, asia tech, china tech, eu tech, global tech, in-depth electronics reviews, 24h tech news, 24h tech news, top mobile apps, tech news daily, gaming hardware, big tech news, useful technology tips, expert interviews, reporting on the business of technology, venture capital funding, programing language

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.

Global Tech News Daily

“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.

Global Tech News Daily

Gebru said she never resigned, but was instead fired after requesting that executives explain why they demanded that Gebru retract a paper she co-authored. It was about how large language models — or AI trained on large amounts of text data, a version of which underpins Google’s own search engine — could reinforce racism, sexism and other systems of oppression. 

Google’s head of research, Jeff Dean, said in a company email the paper “didn’t meet our bar for publication,” though others within the company cast doubt on that claim.

Prior to her departure from Google, Gebru also emailed her colleagues informing them of the retraction request and detailing her frustrations with what she characterized as the company’s subpar efforts to create a more diverse and inclusive workplace. 

The news of the alleged firing made headlines in the tech world and beyond, and it mobilized thousands of Google employees to join a solidarity campaign in support of Gebru, who is also the co-founder of Black in AI. At least two engineers resigned in protest of Gebru’s ousting. Google declined to comment for this story.

A year later, DAIR has found financial support from major backers. The MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, The Rockefeller Foundation and the Kapor Center have provided a cumulative $3.7 million in grants, Gebru said.

She plans to publish DAIR’s research findings in both academic journals and alternative platforms and at a slower pace than the traditional timelines of both the tech industry and academia, she said. Researchers will be encouraged to disseminate their findings in forms that are accessible to the public, including websites and different forms of data visualization, Gebru said, adding that use of some DAIR data sets may require approval to maintain the institute’s mission of encouraging ethical applications of AI. 

Of how she thinks about the relationship between future DAIR research and the actions of large tech companies like Microsoft or Google, Gebru said, “DAIR isn’t doing research for these companies but in the public interest.” 

DAIR researchers will be recruited from, and embedded in, communities around the world, rather than being expected to originate from, or converge in, U.S. tech hubs, she added. DAIR’s first fellow, Raesetje Sefala, is based in Johannesburg, where she has been conducting research on the legacy of spatial apartheid, by creating the first publicly available data set of townships, or underdeveloped urban areas where Black South Africans were segregated through the end of apartheid in the 1990s. 

Gebru and Sefala plan to continue to expand the research and hope to partner with policymakers to “help us advocate for policies that desegregate neighborhoods,” the paper noted.

Coming from the community she studied, Sefala said, was crucial to the project’s success.

“Just having that knowledge and experience of coming from a township, firstly I was able to better coordinate how to label those neighborhoods, and when the models were getting it wrong, it was very easy for me to go in and see why,” she said. “If you don’t know anything about townships and you just have this data set, I think it would’ve been very difficult for you to understand.”

The project, Gebru said, is one example of how AI research can be enriched by researchers’ diversity of perspectives and lived experiences. 

“There is no way I would have done this research on South Africa if it wasn’t for all my collaborators who are South African,” she said. “Their knowledge is just not something I can acquire myself.”

In founding DAIR, Gebru joins a wave of Black female researchers who have founded their own independent institutes dedicated to pioneering more ethical and accountability-driven applications of AI systems, including Yeshimabeit Milner, founder of Data for Black Lives; Ruha Benjamin, founder of the Ida B. Wells Just Data Lab at Princeton University; and Joy Buolamwini, founder of the Algorithmic Justice League

Buolamwini and Gebru co-authored an influential 2018 paper that showed that leading facial recognition technologies — used by Microsoft, IBM and the Chinese company Megvii — misidentified darker-skinned women at much higher rates than they did light-skinned men. Following the publication of that paper, IBM and Microsoft released statements acknowledging the research and announcing their commitments to improving the accuracy of their facial recognition technologies.

In recent years, a growing body of research has found race-, gender- and ability-based biases embedded in algorithms used in policing, health care, hiring tools and remote testing technologies, among others.

Gebru, Buolamwini and others have attributed these biases to the underrepresentation of women of all races, and people of color of all genders, in the AI workforce.

A report published last year by the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence found that women have accounted for just 18.3 percent of graduates of AI and computer science doctoral programs within the past 10 years and that Black and Latino 2019 graduates of AI doctoral programs accounted for just 2.4 percent and 3.2 percent of graduates overall, respectively. That report also cited a 2020 membership survey of 100 people by Queer in AI, which found that nonbinary people accounted for less than 10 percent of group members and that transgender women and men accounted for 5 percent and 2.5 percent of members, respectively. (The report did not measure the intersections of gender identity and race, nor did it measure the number of disabled people in AI.) 

A 2019 report published by the AI Now Institute at New York University found that women constitute 18 percent of authors at leading AI conferences and between 10 and 15 percent of AI research staff at Facebook and Google. Black and Hispanic workers constituted between 2.5 and 6 percent of workers at Google, Facebook and Microsoft, the report noted. 

Buolamwini said DAIR’s mission is critical in light of these inequities that are embedded into both the AI workforce and the technologies themselves. 

“DAIR’s focus on research that centers the lived experiences of the excoded — those impacted by algorithmic harms — is a necessary intervention in a tech ecosystem that so often excludles, exploits, and expunges the very people who can transform the industry from within and without,” Buolamwini said in an emailed statement.

“Dr. Timnit Gebru’s intellect is only outmatched by the depth of her compassion and the strength of her convictions in fighting for those whom society has relegated to the margins,” Buolamwini added, noting that she also hopes to see the organization receive more funding in the future.

Gebru does, too: She’s hopeful that DAIR’s alternative approach to conducting AI research will give rise to new incentive structures that reward and fund research based not on the speed at which it’s produced, but on the communities that it serves.

“A proactive approach means funding other visions of AI,” she said.

Follow NBCBLK on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

News Related

OTHER NEWS

Philippe Coutinho's agent has already revealed his thoughts on Liverpool transfer return

jQuery(function(){ if (typeof jwplayer_load == typeof indefined) { var jwplayer_load = 1; jQuery(window).load(function(){ jQuery(".sc_video_shortcode_jwplayer").each(function(){ var _this = $(this); jQuery.get(jQuery(this).attr("url"), function(data, status){ if (typeof data.split("\n") !== typeof undefined) { var src ... Read more »

Araujo taken in ambulance after sickening clash of heads with Barcelona teammate Gavi

Barcelona defender Ronald Araujo was taken off the pitch in an ambulance during their match against Celta Vigo and rushed to hospital. The Uruguayan was involved in a sickening clash ... Read more »

Aston Villa vs Liverpool: Report and player ratings Sadio Mane gives Reds a Premier League title boost

A much-changed Liverpool side came from behind to win at Villa Park to keep the pressure on league leaders Manchester City Read more »

Liverpool vindicated Jurgen Klopp’s risky rotation policy by doing just enough to beat wasteful Aston Villa

Klopp demoted Mo Salah to the bench and Andy Robertson from the squad but Liverpool had enough to reserve to bounce back from Saturday’s disappointment Read more »

Gary Lineker offers solution to Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy 'Wagatha Christie' case

Gary Lineker has offered a funny solution to the “Wagatha Christie” court case between Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy. Coleen is being sued by Rebekah for libel at the High ... Read more »

FIFA chief Gianni Infantino announces plans to create football game to rival EA Sports

FIFA are planning to create their own football video game after it was announced their three-decade partnership with EA Sports is coming to an end. EA Sports have confirmed FIFA ... Read more »

Fabinho injury: Liverpool midfielder suffers suspected hamstring issue ahead of FA Cup final against Chelsea

The Brazilian pulled up as he sprinted after Philippe Coutinho and had to be replaced by Jordan Henderson at Villa Park Read more »

Man Utd youth coach assesses club's "exciting" kids and his own rise ahead of cup final

Justin Cochrane started his coaching career while a teenage player at QPR when he placed an advert in his local paper for juniors to teach. It didn’t make big news ... Read more »

One year on from football's social media blackout - what's changed?

More than one year on from the social media boycott aimed at tackling discrimination and vile abuse online has anything really changed? You'll remember that at the end of April ... Read more »

European transfer news: Real Madrid up stakes for Kylian Mbappe plus Casemiro exit

Real Madrid have long been linked with Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe and despite speculation the France star is set to sign a new contract with the Ligue 1 giants ... Read more »

Sadio Mane's 'childhood dream' comes to light as Liverpool star linked with summer exit

Sadio Mane 's dream destination has come to light amid links of a summer transfer to Bayern Munich. The Liverpool star is yet to sign a new contract with the ... Read more »

Jadon Sancho's Erling Haaland plea falls on deaf ears as he ignores Man Utd star's wishes

jQuery(function(){ if (typeof jwplayer_load == typeof indefined) { var jwplayer_load = 1; jQuery(window).load(function(){ jQuery(".sc_video_shortcode_jwplayer").each(function(){ var _this = $(this); jQuery.get(jQuery(this).attr("url"), function(data, status){ if (typeof data.split("\n") !== typeof undefined) { var src ... Read more »

Edu 'steps up' Arsenal transfer efforts for £17m Scotland star to replace Nuno Tavares

Arsenal have reportedly stepped up their attempts to sign Scotland star Aaron Hickey as a replacement for Nuno Tavares. After laying out the Gunners' transfer plans, technical director Edu is ... Read more »

Newcastle prepare summer transfer cull with as many as 10 stars 'facing axe'

jQuery(function(){ if (typeof jwplayer_load == typeof indefined) { var jwplayer_load = 1; jQuery(window).load(function(){ jQuery(".sc_video_shortcode_jwplayer").each(function(){ var _this = $(this); jQuery.get(jQuery(this).attr("url"), function(data, status){ if (typeof data.split("\n") !== typeof undefined) { var src ... Read more »

5 Man City casualties from Erling Haaland transfer including brand new signing

The sight of Erling Haaland arriving at Manchester City will send tremors of terror throughout the Premier League – and perhaps to his team-mates as well – as the champions ... Read more »

Chelsea ace Antonio Rudiger signs Real Madrid contract with huge release clause

Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger has now penned a bumper pre-contract agreement with Real Madrid to bring his five-year stint at Stamford Bridge to an end, according to a new report. ... Read more »

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was spot on about Erling Haaland after revealing thoughts on Man Utd

jQuery(function(){ if (typeof jwplayer_load == typeof indefined) { var jwplayer_load = 1; jQuery(window).load(function(){ jQuery(".sc_video_shortcode_jwplayer").each(function(){ var _this = $(this); jQuery.get(jQuery(this).attr("url"), function(data, status){ if (typeof data.split("\n") !== typeof undefined) { var src ... Read more »

Fifth senior Man Utd figure leaves club as chief strategy officer exits in reshuffle

Manchester United have told their employees chief strategy officer Hemen Tseayo is stepping down from his position. A new era began at Old Trafford in February when Richard Arnold became ... Read more »

7 flops who cost more than Erling Haaland after bargain Man City transfer announced

The capture of Erling Haaland has sent pulses racing amongst Manchester City fans as the Premier League prepares to welcome the Norwegian hot-shot. The champions have agreed a £51million deal ... Read more »

Arsenal desperate to prevent Eddie Nketiah exit with six Premier League rivals keen

jQuery(function(){ if (typeof jwplayer_load == typeof indefined) { var jwplayer_load = 1; jQuery(window).load(function(){ jQuery(".sc_video_shortcode_jwplayer").each(function(){ var _this = $(this); jQuery.get(jQuery(this).attr("url"), function(data, status){ if (typeof data.split("\n") !== typeof undefined) { var src ... Read more »

Pep Guardiola reacts to uproar over Liverpool comments after Jurgen Klopp response

jQuery(function(){ if (typeof jwplayer_load == typeof indefined) { var jwplayer_load = 1; jQuery(window).load(function(){ jQuery(".sc_video_shortcode_jwplayer").each(function(){ var _this = $(this); jQuery.get(jQuery(this).attr("url"), function(data, status){ if (typeof data.split("\n") !== typeof undefined) { var src ... Read more »

Brighton starlet attracting transfer attention days after returning from loan

Highly-rated Brighton goalkeeper Carl Rushworth is back training with the Premier League club after his loan at Walsall ended. Rushworth made 43 appearances for Walsall keeping 11 clean sheets for ... Read more »

Lazio president responds to Man Utd's transfer 'interest' in Sergej Milinkovic-Savic

Lazio president Claudio Lotito insists Sergej Milinkovic-Savic is not for sale amid rumours linking him with both Juventus and Manchester United. The Serbia international, 27, has impressed for Lazio this ... Read more »

Cristiano Ronaldo's seven-year prediction on £30m Arsenal transfer speaks volumes

jQuery(function(){ if (typeof jwplayer_load == typeof indefined) { var jwplayer_load = 1; jQuery(window).load(function(){ jQuery(".sc_video_shortcode_jwplayer").each(function(){ var _this = $(this); jQuery.get(jQuery(this).attr("url"), function(data, status){ if (typeof data.split("\n") !== typeof undefined) { var src ... Read more »

Gary Lineker hits out at Patrice Evra for talking "utter nonsense" about Pep Guardiola

Gary Lineker has responded to Patrice Evra's claim that Pep Guardiola doesn't want any leaders at Manchester City due to his management. The former Manchester United defender believes the Spaniard ... Read more »

Stats show Antonio Conte justified in hitting back at Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool 'excuses'

jQuery(function(){ if (typeof jwplayer_load == typeof indefined) { var jwplayer_load = 1; jQuery(window).load(function(){ jQuery(".sc_video_shortcode_jwplayer").each(function(){ var _this = $(this); jQuery.get(jQuery(this).attr("url"), function(data, status){ if (typeof data.split("\n") !== typeof undefined) { var src ... Read more »

Borussia Dortmund immediately name Erling Haaland replacement amid failed Man Utd attempt

Borussia Dortmund have already replaced Erling Haaland by snapping up RB Salzburg hotshot Karim Adeyemi – despite Manchester United's late attempt to hijack the deal. Dortmund have been braced for ... Read more »

Patrick Vieira selects best players he played with and against during legendary career

Patrick Vieira has named Zinedine Zidane, Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry as the best three players he played with during his illustrious playing career. Vieira, who is now the manager ... Read more »

Ralf Rangnick's 4 most controversial Man Utd remarks as Rio Ferdinand calls him "distasteful"

jQuery(function(){ if (typeof jwplayer_load == typeof indefined) { var jwplayer_load = 1; jQuery(window).load(function(){ jQuery(".sc_video_shortcode_jwplayer").each(function(){ var _this = $(this); jQuery.get(jQuery(this).attr("url"), function(data, status){ if (typeof data.split("\n") !== typeof undefined) { var src ... Read more »

Roy Hodgson responds to angry Watford fan backlash after his "snub" at Crystal Palace

Roy Hodson has apologised to Watford fans for failing to acknowledge them in the dark hour of relegation but insisted: “I didn't snub them deliberately.” As their relegation to the ... Read more »

Jesse Marsch quotes Gandhi, JFK and Mother Teresa in bizarre Leeds survival team talk

It is hardly “we’ll fight them on the beaches” stuff, but Jesse Marsch is using sayings by Gandhi and Mother Teresa to fire up his Leeds players for their relegation ... Read more »

Birmingham could sign ex-Atletico Madrid and Chelsea striker if Maxi Lopez buys club

Former Argentine footballer Maxi Lopez wants to sign free agent Diego Costa if he gets control at Birmingham. Birmingham’s Chinese owners are ready to sell a stake in the club ... Read more »

Jose Mourinho demands "explanation" and "respect" in furious Roma outburst

Jose Mourinho has demanded that Roma receive an “explanation” for decisions that went against them in their bruising 2-0 defeat to Fiorentina on Monday. The Giallorossi, not so fresh from ... Read more »

FA Youth Cup final 2022: Man Utd stars to watch vs Nottingham Forest, from Alejandro Garnacho to Joe Hugill

United take on Nottingham Forest at Old Trafford on Wednesday bidding for a record 11th competition triumph Read more »

Antonio Conte taunts Jurgen Klopp with strong response to Liverpool boss' dig

Antonio Conte has hit back at Jurgen Klopp's analysis of his Tottenham side, insisting that Liverpool were lucky to escape with a point from their weekend meeting at Anfield. Spurs ... Read more »

5 free agents Erik ten Hag could target with Man Utd summer transfer budget in question

jQuery(function(){ if (typeof jwplayer_load == typeof indefined) { var jwplayer_load = 1; jQuery(window).load(function(){ jQuery(".sc_video_shortcode_jwplayer").each(function(){ var _this = $(this); jQuery.get(jQuery(this).attr("url"), function(data, status){ if (typeof data.split("\n") !== typeof undefined) { var src ... Read more »

Man City confirm sensational Erling Haaland transfer to sign Europe's hottest property

Manchester City have announced the stunning capture of Erling Haaland after meeting his release clause at Borussia Dortmund. The Norway international, 21, has arguably been the most sought-after player in ... Read more »

Man Utd 'prepare formal bid' for Portuguese youngster who impressed Bruno Fernandes

Manchester United are reportedly preparing a 'formal proposal' for Sporting Lisbon centre-back Goncalo Inacio. Inacio, who came through Sporting's youth ranks, made his senior breakthrough in the 2020/21 season after ... Read more »

Jack Wilshere in Denmark: How Arsenal hero has fared as he provides vital assist

11 years ago this month, Jack Wilshere was fulfilling media duties for England ahead of the Three Lions Euro 2012 qualifying clash against Switzerland. Not one reporter in the room ... Read more »

Erling Haaland transfer: Man City confirm agreement in principle to sign Borussia Dortmund striker for £64m

City are still finalising terms with Haaland, who passed a medical in Belgium on Monday Read more »