Google has a tough choice to make. Make a small outreach to conservatives and face a war with many of its liberal employees.
The Washington Post reported that more than 1,437 Google employees signed a petition to remove Heritage Foundation’s President Kay Coles James from the company’s new AI ethics council. A Medium article, written by Googlers Against Transphobia, was published on April 1 criticizing the decision. The article called for the removal of Kay Coles James because of her stance on transgender issues and immigration.
The article states, “By appointing James to the Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC), Google elevates and endorses her views, implying that hers is a valid perspective worthy of inclusion in its decision making. This is unacceptable.”
The piece stated that a professor invited to the forum declined because of James. Alessandro Acquisti, a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote that he didn’t believe “the council was the right forum for him.” He did not mention the controversy in his tweets, nor has he tweeted about Heritage or James.
The Google article claimed that because artificial intelligence struggles to recognize different ethnicities, people who identify as transgender, and is used to track immigrants, James’ presence on the council would only serve to exacerbate these problems and cause more “racial prejudice.”
Several academics also signed on to the letter. The names include members of MIT, Stanford, Berkeley, University of Oxford, as well as trans activist Charlotte Clymer. Employees from Vox Media, Apple, the Data and Society Research Institute, Microsoft, Mozilla, and Facebook also signed the petition.