Google Gets Kicked Out of Wizard Class: Gibru Jibberish to Follow

March 5, 2021

I read “AI Ethics Research Conference Suspends Google Sponsorship.” Imagine, a science club type organization suspended. Assuming the “real” and ad-littered story is accurate, here’s the scoop:

The ACM Conference for Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAccT) has decided to suspend its sponsorship relationship with Google, conference sponsorship co-chair and Boise State University assistant professor Michael Ekstrand confirmed today. The organizers of the AI ethics research conference came to this decision a little over a week after Google fired Ethical AI lead Margaret Mitchell and three months after the firing of Ethical AI co-lead Timnit Gebru. Google has subsequently reorganized about 100 engineers across 10 teams, including placing Ethical AI under the leadership of Google VP Marian Croak.

The Association for Computing Machinery no less. How many Googlers and Xooglers are in this ACM entity? How many Google and Xoogle papers has the ACM accepted? Now suspended. Yikes, just a high school punishment for an outfit infused with the precepts of high school science club management and behavior.

What’s interesting is the injection of the notion of “ethical.” The world’s largest education and scientific organization is not into talking, understanding the Google point of view, or finding common ground.

Disruptors, losers, and non-fitting wizards and wizardettes are not appropriate for the ethic sub group of ACM. Oh, is that ethical? Good question.

But ACM knows who writes checks. The ad besotted article states:

Putting Google sponsorship on hold doesn’t mean the end of sponsorship from Big Tech companies, or even Google itself. DeepMind, another sponsor of the FAccT conference that incurred an AI ethics controversy in January, is also a Google company. Since its founding in 2018, FAccT has sought funding from Big Tech sponsors like Google and Microsoft, along with the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation. An analysis released last year that compares Big Tech funding of AI ethics research to Big Tobacco’s history of funding health research found that nearly 60% of researchers at four prominent universities have taken money from major tech companies.

Should I raise another question about the ethics of this wallet sensitive posture? Nah. Money talks.

I find the blip on the ethical radar screen quite amusing. One learns each day what really matters in the world of computers and smart software. That’s a plus.

I am waiting for Google Gibru gibberish to explain the situation. I am all ears.

Stephen E Arnold, March 5, 2021


One Response to “Google Gets Kicked Out of Wizard Class: Gibru Jibberish to Follow”

  1. Mediastan on March 6th, 2021 3:27 pm

    Thanks for sharing this news. I do not understand why you would suggest there is any place for positive support for Google’s position. As a career-long member of the ACM, I am proud of their willingness to end the sponsoring relationship. Its a significant symbolic gesture. ACM is a member supporter professional society – there is no “ad-besotted” page anywhere, they are not a sponsored organization, but dues-paying membership organization and the oldest computing sciences society in the world.

    Conferences with ACM special interest groups may have sponsors, but these are not at the level of strategic relationship with the society. The day Google is broken up is the day they become more ethical. Until then, we are going to struggle with their power over the Internet at humanity’s expense.

    Google has been an exemplary unethical orgnaiztaion and its recent reorgniazatons against teh ethics roels wihtin the company are just sympotmatic. The monoolictic reach and control of the company is ethically problematic.

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