The googler uprising continues: after forcing the company to kill its plans to launch a censored Chinese search-engine and its plan to sell AI technology to US drone systems, and forcing out execs who led these projects, and getting the right to sue the company over sexual harassment, more than 170 googlers have signed an open letter demanding that the company reverse its decision to add Heritage Foundation president Kay Coles James to its Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC), an advisory body that provides moral guidance on AI and other technologies.
The open letter cites the Heritage Foundation and James's personal advocacy for transphobic, racist, and anti-immigrant policies, noting that these views "directly contravene Google's stated values" and should have no place on an external ethics advisory body, and that other members of the Council have quit in protest.
Google has called James's appointment part of a commitment to "diversity of thought."
I have signed the letter and so can you.
In selecting James, Google is making clear that its version of "ethics" values proximity to power over the wellbeing of trans people, other LGBTQ people, and immigrants. Such a position directly contravenes Google's stated values. Many have emphasized this publicly, and a professor appointed to ATEAC has already resigned in the wake of the controversy.
Following the announcement, the person who took credit for appointing James stood by the decision, saying that James was on the council to ensure "diversity of thought." This is a weaponization of the language of diversity. By appointing James to the ATEAC, Google elevates and endorses her views, implying that hers is a valid perspective worthy of inclusion in its decision making. This is unacceptable.
Googlers Against Transphobia and Hate [Googlers Against Transphobia/Medium]