Artificial Intelligence: Mass Firings At Twitter Include Its Ethical AI Team

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Late Thursday, Twitter staffers filed a class action lawsuit late Thursday, asking a judge to declare any firings now would be in violation of California and federal law.

Elon Musk-owned Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) is executing a massive firing plan globally. Twitter has closed its offices and suspended the badges of all employees until a decision is made as to whether an employee is fired or retained.

“To help ensure the safety of each employee as well as Twitter systems and customer data, our offices will be temporarily closed and all badge access will be suspended. If you are in an office or on your way to an office, please return home,” said a letter sent to the company’s employees.

Unfortunately, the sweeping job losses also include a team of artificial intelligence researchers who were working toward making Twitter’s algorithms more transparent and fair. (Wired)

The ML Ethics, Transparency, and Accountability (M.E.T.A.) team at the social messaging platform has been fired in its entirety, as confirmed by Joan Deitchman, a senior manager at the unit.

Rumman Chowdhury, director of the M.E.T.A. team at Twitter, tweeted that she had been let go.

The M.E.T.A. team at Twitter had a solid reputation for the work they did in uncovering bias in AI algorithms, going so far as to publishing details of problems with the company’s AI systems, and in allowing outside researchers to probe its algorithms for new issues.

Ali Alkhatib, director of the Center for Applied Data Ethics at the University of San Francisco, said Chowdhury was very highly regarded in the AI ethics community, and that her team did valuable work.

“There aren’t many corporate ethics teams worth taking seriously,” Alkhatib said to Wired. “This was one of the ones whose work I taught in classes.”

Related Story: Google’s Ethical AI Crisis Escalates; Samy Bengio Resigns

Image Credit: Flickr

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