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Google walkout organizers say they're being retaliated against for demanding ethical standards

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Meredith Whittaker (previously) and Claire Stapleton were two of the principal organizers of the mass googler walkouts over the company's coverup and rewarding of sexual assault and harassment, as well as other Google employee actions over the company's involvement in drone warfare and Chinese censorship; now, in a widely circulated letter to colleagues, they say that they have been targeted for retaliation by Google management. Whittaker says that she been tolkd that her "role would be changed dramatically" and that has been ordered to cease her work on AI ethics and end her association with the AI Now Institute (previously), a nonprofit she co-founded to explore ethical questions in machine learning (disclosure: I am a volunteer on the board of Simply Secure, another nonprofit founded by Whittaker, and consider her a friend). Stapleton says that she's lost half her reports, has had a previously approved project cancelled, has been advised to take medical leave, has had her work given to other people, has been told she would be demoted -- though this was walked back when she hired a lawyer. She says "the environment remains hostile and I consider quitting nearly every day." For whatever it's worth, I offer my sincere solidarity, admiration and gratitude to Whittaker and Stapleton. You two have been an inspiration and a beacon, and do not deserve any of this. Hi all,This was a hard email to write. Google is retaliating against several organizers. We are among them and here is what’s happening to us: Meredith Just after Google announced that it would disband its AI ethics council, I was informed my role would be changed dramatically. Read the rest

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