Google's Firing of Timnit Gebru Shows It Can't Stop Being Evil

The firing of data scientist Timnit Gebru demonstrates that companies can't be trusted to check their own work.

There's been a lot of ink spilled on Google's firing of Timnit Gebru over the past week or so by people much closer to the situation than I am, so I won't attempt to comment on most of it here. Here's a good place to start if you're not familiar.

What I like particularly about the linked article is that it points out the structural impossibility of internal "accountability" groups dealing with algorithmic fairness. These groups have about as much credibility, IMO, as the reports published by oil companies stating that their activities don't lead to anthropogenic climate change. Do you find Exxon a credible source on this topic? Please.

Cathy O'Neill's point in this article: if you want real accountability, audits have to be done by external auditors. I'd go further: audit standards have to be backed up by regulation. Do we allow companies to audit their own financials? Not a f#%$ing chance. And the third parties that do it are held to standards that actually have teeth.

Anything less is just PR.


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