Google AI researcher who organized walkout reportedly leaves company

Another organizer of last year’s Google walkouts apparently left the company.

James Martin/Techhnews

A Google AI researcher who was among the leaders of last November’s “unprecedented” walkout apparently left the company, Bloomberg reported. Meredith Whittaker’s departure follows fellow organizer Claire Stapleton leaving in June — both alleged that the search giant retaliated against them in the wake of the protests.

“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,” Google software engineer Chris Lu tweeted Monday.

The 2018 protests saw 20,000 Google employees walk out of the company’s offices globally to protest how it handled of sexual assault allegations directed at key executives. 

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Whittaker led Google’s Open Research program and co-founded New York University’s AI Now Institute. She alleged that Google asked her to give up the latter role in March after the company disbanded its AI ethics board amid controversy over one of its members.

Google workers haven’t been shy about speaking out against their employer — they’re also protested its military contracts, work in China, and treatment of temporary workers and contractors.

The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

First published at 3:21 a.m. PT.
Updated at 4 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.

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