AI scientist who sparked debate about diversity launches lab

AI scientist who sparked debate about diversity launches lab

Reuters- Timnit Gebru, a computer scientist who left Google's artificial intelligence research team to spark debate about diversity and censorship, said on Thursday she launched a small lab to continue her work.

The Distributed AI Research Institute raised $3.7 million from foundations and aims to study services from big tech companies as well as propose AI-based solutions to issues such as food insecurity and climate change, Gebru said.

It is affiliated with several non-governmental projects such as the Algorithmic Justice League that are advancing the ethical use of AI. Critics worry that without proper safeguards for facial recognition and credit scoring, a system that includes facial recognition and credit scoring could lead to mass surveillance and racial discrimination.

Gebru has hired a fellow researcher in South Africa and expects to add more researchers next year. They will publish studies and educate activists and lawmakers around the world.

Gebru said DAIR is not just working on research papers. I want to make sure that's what's going on. I want to be an institute that understands that you have to engage with different groups of people. Gebru, who is Black, said Google fired her a year ago for criticizing it's lack of workforce diversity and fighting managers who objected to publishing a paper she co-wrote on potential social and environmental costs of language technology. Google has accepted Gebru's resignation.

Her speaking out about the incident drew praise from many scientists and engineers, but others questioned her work and tactics. Alphabet Inc united Google in the aftermath, reorganized the ethical AI research team Gebru had led, fired her co-leader and lost the pair's manager to Apple.

Gebru started DAIR over joining another company because of their freedom to pursue whatever they wanted to do. She said that it will be tough to sustain without becoming beholden to sponsors or other powers. The foundations of MacArthur, Ford and Rockefeller are among the initial investors.