Founder of the company’s Open Research Group, and co-founder of the NYU-affiliated AI Now Institute, Meredith Whittaker, is leaving the company. She was the Google employee who helped lead protests over the company’s search giant’s work for the military. Moreover, along with her handling of AI ethics, and its sexual harassment policies has left the organization.
On Monday, a Google spokeswoman confirmed Whittaker’s departure after another Google worker tweeted about her departure. Whittaker did not respond to a request for comment, immediately.
She was working as a program manager at Google which focuses on ethical questions involving artificial intelligence. In NYU-affiliated AI Now Institute, she focused on ethical questions involving artificial intelligence. The group often criticizes businesses and government agencies for using AI systems, like facial recognition, in policing and surveillance.
Bloomberg was the first to report about her departure. After this, Google confirmed this news to techcrunch. Her Google fellows praised her “ethical leadership” after she spoke out against the work of Google of building AI tools for military drones. She raised his voice for a change at Google.
When Google hired Heritage Foundation president Kay Cole James to sit on an external AI ethics board, she criticized the company’s decision. But after the launch, due to the protests, the company has to shut down its decision. Last year’s “Google Walkout for Change,” was also lead by the Whittaker along with fellow employee Claire Stapleton. In this mass walk out, 20,000 employees participated to protest against the company’s handling of sexual harassment allegations. Whittaker was involved in each case, with led to change at the company. Google was convinced not to develop AI weapons, after the different responses of criticisms against its work with the Pentagon. Google also ended its practice of forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault cases after all the dispute of protesters settled down, it requires employees to ignore their legal rights.
Whittaker and Stapleton faced internal retaliation for their actions after these protests. According to Whittaker, she was told her job would “be changed dramatically”. It was also told to her that she would have to stop her work with the AI Now Institute. Earlier this year Stapleton left the company, Stapleton later wrote:
she had been “branded with a kind of scarlet letter that makes it difficult to do my job” “If I stayed, I didn’t just worry that there’d be more public flogging, shunning, and stress, I expected it,”
In April, Whittaker tweeted in response to Stapleton’s departure
Google’s retaliation isn’t about me, or [Claire Stapleton]. It’s about silencing dissent & making us afraid to speak honestly about tech & power. NOT OK. Now more than ever, it’s time to speak up.
Different sites are trying to reach both Whittaker and Google for comment, but there is still nothing they could get. We are waiting to hear from both of the sides about this resignation.