Ethiopian Computer Scientist Timnit Gebru had it all going for her, firmly established as an authoritative voice in Artificial Intelligence at Google where she served as technical co-lead of the Ethical Artificial Intelligence Team until she got fired following a controversy in 2020 which highlighted racism. This was after Gebru published academic papers denouncing the tech giant’s AI’s work on large language models that help retrieve answers to controversial search inquiries, reports say.
Today, Gerbu, a core advocate of diversity in artificial intelligence has bounced back even stronger! She is proudly founder of Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute (DAIR). The Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research Institute is “an independent, community-rooted institute set to counter Big Tech’s pervasive influence on the research, development and deployment of AI,” according to its announcement press release.
The firm was awarded $3.7 million, from the Ford Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, the Kapor Center, Open Society Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation.
In 2021, Gebru was named one of the world’s 50 great leaders by Fortune.
“AI needs to be brought back down to earth. It has been elevated to a superhuman level that leads us to believe it is both inevitable and beyond our control,” said Gebru in the announcement. “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.”
“I’ve been frustrated for a long time about the incentive structures that we have in place and how none of them seem to be appropriate for the kind of work I want to do,” Gebru said.
She aims for DAIR to influence AI policies and practices of Big Tech companies like Google. Her expertise will be monumental in leading the charge to alter AI applications, especially with facial recognition software that has shown extreme bias against people of color.
Gebru, has received well-earned recognition as an industry leader. In 2019, alongside Buolamwini, and Inioluwa Deborah Raji she won VentureBeat’s 2019 AI Innovations Award in the category AI for Good for their research highlighting the significant problem of algorithmic bias in facial recognition. Gebru was named one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders by Fortune in 2021 and was included in a list of ten scientists who had had important roles in scientific developments in 2021 compiled by the scientific journal Nature.