Google hired computer scientist Timnit Gebru to sniff out bias and other unethical practices in the company’s sprawling artificial intelligence work. After she drafted a paper that did just that, she says, the company moved to fire her.
In this episode of Art of Power, Gebru walks host Aarti Shahani through the twists and turns of life that led her to Silicon Valley. A refugee from Ethiopia, she migrated to Massachusetts as a teen, and then headed to Stanford University (though her college guidance counselor didn’t think she was Stanford material).
Gebru became a different kind of tech unicorn – a woman and an under-represented minority in the industry. Her departure from Google is one of the most high-profile exits that Big Tech has ever seen. She reflects on what her personal story means for a larger public that’s grappling with the unchecked power of a handful of companies. She also explains how she’s working to light little fires everywhere.
Correction: A previous version of this episode misstated the frequency of a Google division’s “all staff” meeting. Gebru said it was quarterly, not weekly.