Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Is Full Social Maturity Inconsistent With The Expectations Of Google Senior Managers?

 BI |  Hi everyone,

The last two weeks have been difficult for many, many people, and have surfaced large, important issues. Many in the Black+ and other communities have trusted us to make good on promises regarding racial equity, respect and inclusion. I can understand how the handling of Dr. Gebru's departure has made some question our commitment to that. These are areas I care deeply about as well, both personally and professionally. You can and absolutely should raise concerns over our culture and lack of representation. We need to do more to make Google Research more inclusive and representative. I, along with our Research leadership team and the DEI Council, will be focusing intensely on this in 2021. We know we have work to do to improve our internal org culture and leadership accountability is essential to that culture.

At the same time, researchers might hesitate to pursue crucial work on bias in AI and related issues, and have raised concerns about our org culture and ability to pursue this research. This deeply saddens me, and I want to reiterate how important it is that we do work in this area to highlight risks and larger societal issues that can arise in uses of AI (indeed, much our of AI Principles highlight the importance of this). So, I want to assure you all that yes, we need to double down on research that ensures AI and other technologies have a positive and equitable impact. We have over 200 people on multiple teams across the company working on responsible AI, and we're going to continue and expand that work. We'll also sharped up our publication goals and processes going into 20201 to ensure that all researchers feel confident that their work is supported.

We've heard the important questions many of you have raised – thank you for your time and energy. We had intended to gather at our All Hands next week to celebrate the year and to preview our 2021 strategy, but while there's lots to be proud of as an org and what we've accomplished, a celebration doesn't seem appropriate at this time. So we won't hold that meeting next week, and will look at getting together as a whole org after the holidays. Instead, to make sure we have opportunities to come together and discuss these important issues, I'll be setting aside time next week, along with my direct reports and other leads within Research, to hold a series of smaller group conversations. If you'd like to participate in these, please fill out this form (the number of people interested and topics shared will help us figure out the most effective format and number of these sessions). In addition to the formal review underway that Sundar shared, many of you have shared useful suggestions on how we can improve our culture. If you have more thoughts, please feel free to share (this one can be anonymous, or you can add your idap) and know that I'll be reading every idea and reflecting on how we can do better.

I'm sorry for how challenging this has been. Please take some time over the next week as you see fit; if you prefer to continue your work, that's fine, but I want everyone to know you can take the time you need. The top priority for me is all fo you – your well-being and our ability to pursue great research together.

You can expect to hear a clear follow up from me and my leads on this in January.


- Jeff


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