Timnit Gebru

WGL 2021-Timnet Gebru
Kimberly White—Getty Images for TechCrunch
  • Title
  • Affiliation
    Black in AI

A well-respected researcher and one of the most prominent Black women working in artificial intelligence, Gebru has tirelessly sounded the alarm about how A.I. bias can perpetuate inequality. Last year, her warnings seemed to become inconvenient truths for her employer, Google. In December, after Gebru questioned the company’s commitment to diversity and was asked to withdraw a research paper she had coauthored about the risks of “large language models,” or A.I. trained on huge amounts of text, Google forced her out. Her departure galvanized protests from thousands of A.I. professionals, including many of her former Google colleagues, some of whom quit in solidarity. Others cited Gebru’s experience (and Google’s subsequent firing of Margaret Mitchell, another senior A.I. ethicist) as fuel for unionization efforts. Despite online harassment, Gebru has continued to speak out—amplifying a long-simmering reckoning over Big Tech companies’ lack of racial and gender diversity, and their blindness to potential biases in the enormously powerful technology they create.