Google walkout leader Meredith Whittaker leaves company

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San Francisco, July 16 (IANS) Founder of Google’s “Open Research Group”, Meredith Whittaker, who led employee protests against sexual harassment and Google’s secret work for China, has quit her job because of the internal retaliation she faced at work following the protests.

A software engineer at Google named Chris Lau confirmed Whittaker’s exit from the company on Tuesday and tweeted, “Today is @mer__edith’s final day at Google. Watching her experience as a whistleblower at Google and a victim of retaliation cannot signal good things for how AI institutions will react to negative criticism. #NotOkGoogle.”

During her tenure, not only did Whittaker lead protests at Google against its involvement with the Chinese government and military, she also organised the massive walkout last November to protest against how Google handles sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, TechCrunch reported on Tuesday. The November walkout was joined by over 20,000 Google employees.

In each case, the protests Whittaker was involved with led to change at the company.

In response to criticisms of its work with the Pentagon, Google pledged not to develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) weapons. And after the fallout from the walkout cleared, Google ended its practice of forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault cases, which requires employees to waive their legal rights, The Verge pointed out.

Earlier in April, Claire Stapleton, Whittaker’s fellow employee also left the company because of similar reasons.

“Google’s retaliation isn’t about me, or (Claire Stapleton). It’s about silencing dissent and making us afraid to speak honestly about tech and power. NOT OK. Now more than ever, it’s time to speak up,” Whittaker had tweeted in April.

Whittaker, who is also the co-founder of New York University-affiliated ‘AI Now Institute’, has not commented on her resignation yet.

–IANS

rp/mag/bg

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