What Really Happened When Google Ousted Timnit Gebru

She was a star engineer who warned that messy AI can spread racism. Google brought her in. Then it forced her out. Can Big Tech take criticism from within?

One afternoon in late November of last year, Timnit Gebru was sitting on the couch in her San Francisco Bay Area home, crying.

Gebru, a researcher at Google, had just clicked out of a last-minute video meeting with an executive named Megan Kacholia, who had issued a jarring command. Gebru was the coleader of a group at the company that studies the social and ethical ramifications of artificial intelligence, and Kacholia had ordered Gebru to retract her latest research paper—or else

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