After being fired from Google, Gebru forms AI research institute

Artificial Intelligence (AI) researcher Timnit Gebru, fired from Google after sending an email of concern to her Ethical AI team, has set up her own research institute that will be an independent, community-rooted institute set to counter Big Tech’s pervasive influence on the research, development and deployment of AI.

The Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR) is a response to the need Gebru sees for independent spaces where researchers across the globe can set the agenda and conduct AI research rooted in their communities and lived experiences.

“AI needs to be brought back down to earth,” said Gebru, Founder of DAIR.

“It has been elevated to a superhuman level that leads us to believe it is both inevitable and beyond our control. When AI research, development and deployment is rooted in people and communities from the start, we can get in front of these harms and create a future that values equity and humanity,” she said in a statement late on Thursday.

Gebru said that the harms embedded in AI technology are preventable and that when its production and deployment include diverse perspectives and deliberate processes, it can be put to work for people, rather than against them.

With DAIR, she aims to create an environment that is independent from the structures and systems that incentivise profit over ethics and individual well-being.

The institute is funded by the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Kapor Center and the Open Society Foundation.

“Timnit Gebru’s launch and leadership of DAIR will advance the field of public interest technology and ensure the movement toward ethical AI not only considers but prioritises the voices of impacted communities around the globe,” said Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation.

Gebru was the technical co-lead of Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence team.

She was fired over an email where she expressed her doubts about Google’s commitment to inclusion and diversity.

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