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(CNBC)   Woman threatens to leave her job unless her demands are met. Boss fires her. Too bad she didn't have any way to predict that outcome   (cnbc.com) divider line
    More: Fail, Artificial intelligence, Timnit Gebru, dismissal email, Twitter, Termination of employment, Google employees, Facial recognition system, email Gebru  
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1910 clicks; posted to Business » on 03 Dec 2020 at 6:31 PM (7 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



42 Comments     (+0 »)
 
View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2020-12-03 5:10:53 PM  
Instead of just pushing diversity, she should have pushed for unionization. Can't fight a monster that size without help.
 
2020-12-03 5:35:45 PM  
Gebru said she had made a number of requests and threatened to leave if they weren't met but didn't expect immediate termination.

I'm not that smart...but am I missing something here?
 
2020-12-03 5:52:01 PM  

Circusdog320: Gebru said she had made a number of requests and threatened to leave if they weren't met but didn't expect immediate termination.

I'm not that smart...but am I missing something here?


Sounds like she put her requests on blast instead of keeping them within management:

However, we believe the end of your employment should happen faster than your email reflects because certain aspects of the email you sent last night to non-management employees in the brain group reflect behavior that is inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager.

Without knowing what her requests were, it's hard to be 100% on her side or against her, but I have seen people punished for poorly targeting emails in a similar manner.

/Then again, it's only the unconfirmed email's claim that she sent the requests to non-management employees.
 
2020-12-03 6:14:53 PM  
I skip ultimatums. I just do the "else" part.
 
2020-12-03 6:45:06 PM  
> "I thought this was a joke because it seemed ridiculous that anyone would fire @timnitGebru given her expertise, her skills, her influence," wrote former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao on Twitter.

Ellen Pao complaining about a woman being fired despite "her expertise, her skills, her influence"?

My irony meter just blew up.
 
2020-12-03 6:47:10 PM  
As much as I mistrust Management  and their ilk, if you threaten to leave unless something happens, you should be ready to leave when it doesn't happen.
 
2020-12-03 6:52:42 PM  
This is a pretty terrible look from google, but without knowing the demands and the content of the emails google execs found objectionable, it's difficult to tell for certain whether google is in the wrong or not. At minimum google is acting stupidly: i never would have found out about this if google handled the situation in a less hamfisted manner. Now I can't help but assume that google doesn't give a shiat about diversity and inclusion coontil more is revealed).
 
2020-12-03 6:59:51 PM  
If you want to change an organization from within don't act like someone trying to change an organization from without. For example, don't post shiat on social media, or make threats, or demands, etc. Instead you work with people and try to influence them to your agenda.
 
2020-12-03 7:02:29 PM  
"I thought this was a joke because it seemed ridiculous that anyone would fire @timnitGebru given her expertise, her skills, her influence," wrote former Reddit CEO Ellen Pao on Twitter. "This is one of the many times when I think there is just no hope for the tech industry."

Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2020-12-03 7:10:23 PM  
I've seen a lot people get too big for their britches. Anyone can be replaced. Threatening to leave is a temper tantrum. Find a productive way to fix what's bothering you or just leave.
 
2020-12-03 7:14:39 PM  
https://www.platformer.news/p/the-wit​h​ering-email-that-got-an-ethical
Link with her original email that likely got her fired.  Doesn't have the ultimatum email.
 
2020-12-03 7:30:16 PM  
I think she knew what she was doing. Sounds like she was very frustrated and decided to scorch some earth and bring a bit of attention to what was grinding her gears.  If she is as talented as it sounds like she is, she'll be working somewhere else as soon as she is ready to work someplace else.
 
2020-12-03 7:33:27 PM  
If you threaten to leave, consider yourself already gone.
 
2020-12-03 7:40:25 PM  
i.gifer.comView Full Size

CEILING!
 
2020-12-03 7:40:30 PM  

Nadie_AZ: Instead of just pushing diversity, she should have pushed for unionization. Can't fight a monster that size without help.


She might be exempt since she managed people, I dunno. But, yeah, good unions give workers the power to not ask for but demand the changes she advocated. Nothing's happening without workers. Well, unless AI makes them redundant. . . . Wait a second.
 
2020-12-03 7:46:32 PM  
Woman demands things.  Gets fired.

Goes to paper.  Has paper rile people up.  Doesn't tell paper what she demanded.

I wonder why that is?
 
2020-12-03 7:50:44 PM  

Nadie_AZ: Instead of just pushing diversity, she should have pushed for unionization. Can't fight a monster that size without help.


You do realize they've been targeting employees that support unionization, right?
 
2020-12-03 7:54:03 PM  

SBinRR: I think she knew what she was doing. Sounds like she was very frustrated and decided to scorch some earth and bring a bit of attention to what was grinding her gears.  If she is as talented as it sounds like she is, she'll be working somewhere else as soon as she is ready to work someplace else.


*ding ding ding*

She's literally in one of the most in demand sub-fields and extremely well known.

She might not win her case against Google, but there is no question she's going to be swamped with job offers.
 
2020-12-03 8:32:57 PM  
In my eyes that was a resignation letter.
 
2020-12-03 8:43:49 PM  
The "ethical AI team" at Google?  They are just dying to eliminate everyone on that team - preferably with drones or T-100's.
 
2020-12-03 8:50:51 PM  
Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2020-12-03 9:08:41 PM  
At one job in Las Vegas, I installed a new main computer and accounting system.  One of the bookkeepers refused to use the new system and the assistant controller backed her up.  The new controller decided to fire the bookkeeper and the asst. controller said she'd quit if the bookkeeper was fired.  The controller said, "Have your resignation letter on my desk by close of business."

Back-filling was attempted, but the discussion occurred in front of the VP of Finance and he was fine with both actions.
 
2020-12-03 9:43:39 PM  

highrye: https://www.platformer.news/p/the-wit​h​ering-email-that-got-an-ethical
Link with her original email that likely got her fired.  Doesn't have the ultimatum email.


This has everything, including the demands (revealing the individuals who were stonewalling her). The on label reason for her being fired is to ask engineers under her to stop work. There is a big gap between her report and the company's report. I'm tempted to believe the engineer.

Thanks for this link. Super informative. Pretty much the nail in the coffin of any possibility of me working at Google too.
 
2020-12-03 11:05:46 PM  

TheHighlandHowler: I skip ultimatums. I just do the "else" part.


Always.  If you issue me an ultimatum, I will virtually always respond with "Okay, go ahead and [whatever they threatened to do]."
 
2020-12-03 11:20:20 PM  
I had a coworker try this with a similar result. He'd been promoted well past his abilities and his difficulties were mostly turning into friction with everyone who dealt with him. Apparently during another contentious discussion, he tried to win an argument with "If we don't do it my way, I'll quit". His peers and managers jumped on it - meeting was adjourned to get the paperwork in order. Most of us learned about it as he went around trying to walk it back without totally backing down.

But that was it, he was gone for good by the end of the day.
 
2020-12-03 11:40:07 PM  

cefm: The "ethical AI team" at Google?  They are just dying to eliminate everyone on that team - preferably with drones or T-100's.


"I work in a factory that manufactures robots to replace workers - I'm bulletproof!"
 
2020-12-04 12:53:57 AM  

My Second Fark Account: This is a pretty terrible look from google, but without knowing the demands and the content of the emails google execs found objectionable, it's difficult to tell for certain whether google is in the wrong or not. At minimum google is acting stupidly: i never would have found out about this if google handled the situation in a less hamfisted manner. Now I can't help but assume that google doesn't give a shiat about diversity and inclusion coontil more is revealed).


The first email has been made public and it's pretty bad for her.  More or less she was airing her grievances with a particular decision (deciding to retract an academic paper she was working on) and she went all scorched-earth "this is proof Google treats minorities as sub-human" and mailed it out to a large number of their people interested in DEI.

After that, you can bet Google was interested in any opportunity to let her go.
 
2020-12-04 1:00:38 AM  

wage0048: TheHighlandHowler: I skip ultimatums. I just do the "else" part.

Always.  If you issue me an ultimatum, I will virtually always respond with "Okay, go ahead and [whatever they threatened to do]."


I wonder how many people have gotten away with "either X goes or I go"?
 
2020-12-04 3:15:38 AM  
I've run through her work and, as I can judge, she wasn't working on Ai per se, but rather on how AI researchers are not diverse enough ethnic group. While valuable for press relations in modern world, it's not exactly what helps actually develop AI. I think her position weren't as strong as she thought.
 
2020-12-04 6:28:12 AM  
PeopleOps will reach out to you.
 
2020-12-04 7:41:25 AM  
Her job was ethical AI and she is at the top of the field. Firing the ethical person immediately (and telling her employees she resigned) when she stands by her principals _is_ on Google. She did what she should have. Google did not.
 
2020-12-04 8:17:39 AM  
I'm gonna quit if you don't give me xyz.

Let me save you the trouble.  Bye Felicia.

How do you not see this coming a mile away?
 
2020-12-04 8:36:50 AM  
You're not on TV. Don't make threats. Also, don't make threats at work unless you're planning on never needing to work again.
 
2020-12-04 9:28:05 AM  
There are few people working in "ethical AI" because no one knows its a thing.
 
2020-12-04 9:32:21 AM  

gyorg: Her job was ethical AI and she is at the top of the field. Firing the ethical person immediately (and telling her employees she resigned) when she stands by her principals _is_ on Google. She did what she should have. Google did not.


Give me $10 or I will punch you! To me that doesn't seem ethical but I suppose it must be since she is the best at AI Ethics.
If I was google I would be doing a deep dive into any code she was responsible for.

A demand followed by a threat is not at the top of any field it is in fact the very bottom of the field, And if it was my field she would not get to play on it at all.

And BTW if you get sacked for doing this in the UK you will not get any benefits as it will be deemed you did in fact quit your job.
 
2020-12-04 10:45:44 AM  
I worked for a large corporation.  Anybody who was not protected by a union who would pull a stunt like that would be fired, every time.
 
2020-12-04 10:51:43 AM  

Billy Liar: As much as I mistrust Management  and their ilk, if you threaten to leave unless something happens, you should be ready to leave when it doesn't happen.


I've given numerous ultimatums, generally over unsafe conditions. I am always prepared for that to be the end of my employment. Faced with 'lose our most senior employee or deal with safety issue' replacing me has never been attractive. I accept that game may shift some day.
 
2020-12-04 10:55:07 AM  

bfh0417: OccamsWhiskers: I had a coworker try this with a similar result. He'd been promoted well past his abilities and his difficulties were mostly turning into friction with everyone who dealt with him. Apparently during another contentious discussion, he tried to win an argument with "If we don't do it my way, I'll quit". His peers and managers jumped on it - meeting was adjourned to get the paperwork in order. Most of us learned about it as he went around trying to walk it back without totally backing down.

But that was it, he was gone for good by the end of the day.

A lot of people think they are irreplaceable. No one is.


Counterpoint: Chuck Tingle
 
2020-12-04 11:34:19 AM  
You hired me to do a job. I come in and do that job. I go home. How hard is that? I dont come to work to make friends. I dont care about the politics. I care about a paycheck. If I dont like the environment or ethics of the job, I leave.
 
2020-12-04 1:43:51 PM  
"Gebru, who was the technical co-lead of the Ethical AI Team at Google and worked on algorithmic bias and data mining, is a well-known advocate for diversity in technology and is the co-founder of a community of black researchers called Black in AI. She has been a vocal critic of tech companies' treatment of Black workers and had tweeted veiled criticism about her employer earlier that day."

That's the HR buzzword bingo for "fire me before I have enough dirt to file headache lawsuits".
 
2020-12-04 1:59:13 PM  
Upon reviewing her work, she wasn't even handling any ethical concerns in AI.

Here are ethical concern:  How can we keep AI from getting out of hand and killing people?  How can we keep AI from getting out of hand and destroying all privacy?  How can we keep AI from making so many fake videos and images that people no longer know what the truth is?

Apparently her only ethical concern was "how can we get more diverse people working in AI."
 
2020-12-04 3:31:46 PM  

Billy Liar: As much as I mistrust Management  and their ilk, if you threaten to leave unless something happens, you should be ready to leave when it doesn't happen.


You should never threaten to leave.  You should just leave.  Even if the something you want to happen happens, the relationship is poisoned.

I was with a well known company for five years once back in the early 2000s, and got screwed over by a jerk boss on a promotion.  Felt so much like biatching, etc. but was able to keep my mouth shut.  Updated my resume that night, had an offer in hand in a month, and gave my two week notice.  Suddenly it was all, "Would you stay if we promoted you?"  Answer, no.  I've already accepted another position.  C'ya.

If you do want to "set conditions" you need to do it a heck of a lot more tactfully and diplomatically than this.
 
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