Google’s decision to drop their AI advisory board entirely in response to left-wing critics within the company was met with applause from staff at an all-hands meeting Thursday, a source present told The Daily Caller.
“We didn’t get it right,” said Jen Gennai, Head of Responsible Innovation at Google, during the weekly meeting, reversing the position she had taken at the same meeting a week earlier.
Internal emails from within the company, first published by the Daily Caller, show staffers in revolt over the addition of Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation, to the advisory board.
At last week’s all-hands meeting, Gennai was asked about the appointment two days after it was made, and she defended it from company critics. (RELATED: Exclusive: Meet The Five Googlers Who Circulated The Petition To Drop Kay Coles James)
In internal emails obtained by the Daily Caller, Google staffers mocked Gennai’s defense of the appointment on March 28. A request for comment from the company has gone unreturned as of press time.
“There is something very cavalier about it,” said Joelle Skaf, a software engineer involved in disseminating the petition signed by more than 2,000 Googlers. “A level of tone deafness and dismissiveness of the gravity of the situation (“LGBTQI views”, only “ONE out of eight” suck, the whole “diversity of opinions” trope, the council not being a “club” but more like a “parliament”, the reduction of the problem to the “one issue” of transphobia), a hope that they can say some words, go through the motions,and hope that this storm will pass like others have.”
In another email, Skaf characterized conservatives as “exterminationists.”
“If one is pro-US military,” wrote Skaf in another email, “would you trust their judgement on AI applications for the military?”
“My “favorite” part of Jen’s response,” wrote Nina-Marie Amadeo, another sponsor of the petition, “is the bit about how one of the REAL reasons (definitely not just to score political points on the right) Kay Coles James is included on the board is she’s an advocate for gender equality! You know, the woman responsible for a TERF panel, lobbying against the Equality Act because it includes trans people, and who doesn’t acknowledge nonbinary people as people. What an activist for gender equality!”
Meredith Whittaker, another petition sponsor who heads up Google’s Open Research Group, flatly disparaged the idea of including people with conservative points of view. “I would note that the argument for viewpoint diversity was at the core of Damore’s memo, and has been used by the alt-right to argue against diversity efforts that focus on historically marginalized communities. … This appointment undermines all of the work we’ve done to push for more ethical processes, from organizing against Maven,to our ML Fairness work, and beyond. It’s extremely disappointing that this Council is offered as an answer to the pressing questions so many of us have been raising for a long while.”
Another Googler, a developer advocate, sent the following message straight to Gennai the day after that week’s all-hands meeting:
“Would we even consider having a virulent antisemite on the advisory board? How about an avowed racist or white supremacist? Would we use diversity of input as justification for including someone with those extreme views? I don’t think we would. This seems like a double standard where anti-LGTBQ positions are tolerated more than other extreme discriminatory views.”
These emails show that a large portion of Googlers regarded the appointment of James, a black grandmother and a Christian, as similar to appointing a white supremacist. Two emails specifically took issue with her touting being a wife and mother in her biography. (RELATED: Google Dings Ethics Panel After Employees Throw A Fit Over Conservative Member)
“I love how they introduce her extensive professional experience, and then at the bottom, “most importantly”, wife and mother (??)” wrote one mechanical engineer at the tech giant. “In all seriousness though, James’ inclusion on the council is either horribly negligent or outright malicious. Nothing the heritage foundation recommends should have any place in policy we should endorse.”
“Nobody else on the board mentioned their family,” wrote another Googler. “Why would you do that in a work bio? Growing up in a conservative family, there’s a very very simple reason this is in her bio: it’s a statement that she believes in,”traditional family values,” specifically as they relate to the role of women in the family.”
With the board’s cancellation, Google is backing the leftist elements among its staff, and sending a strong message that social conservatives will not be allowed anywhere near the company.