Dennis Prager doesn’t think the Nazi slogan, the 3 Ks is bad. The German slogan describes that a woman’s place should be limited to the children, kitchen, and church. The Majority Report crew discusses how they are not surprised by Prager’s view aligning with fascists. The MR crew talks about how Prager and those on the Right like him do not want women involved in politics and the hierarchy Nazis wanted to maintain.
Last year, as an alternative to the temporary expansion of the child tax credit under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan, Senator Mitt Romney of Utah introduced a plan to give every family a monthly benefit of up to $350 per child for children 5 and under and $250 per child for children 6 to 17. It was simple, generous (it included a payment before birth, too) and — on paper, at least — effective. According to the Niskanen Center, which helped devise the proposal, the Romney plan would cut overall child poverty by roughly a third and the deepest child poverty by half.
Republicans hated it. His Senate colleagues Marco Rubio and Mike Lee denounced Romney’s plan as “welfare assistance,” and called for “pro-work” policies to assist families. “An essential part of being pro-family is being pro-work,” the senators said. “Congress should expand the child tax credit without undercutting the responsibility of parents to work to provide for their families.”
Romney, who voted against Biden’s rescue package, went back to the drawing board and recently unveiled a less generous version of his plan aimed at winning Republican support in the Senate. In this iteration, which would fill the gap left by the expiration of the Biden expansion in December, a family with children would have to earn at least $10,000 per year to qualify for the full credit. Below that, the benefit would scale proportionally so that a family earning $5,000 per year would receive 50 percent of the credit. The most impoverished families would receive the smallest benefits.
This version of the child benefit, to use the lingo of Romney’s earlier conservative critics, would “reward work.”
And yet there’s little indication that any more than a token group of Republican lawmakers is interested in Romney’s latest proposal. There’s no appetite for it. For the vast majority of Republicans in Congress, passing a new child benefit is not the kind of work they came to Washington to do. (It should be said, though, that in the absence of the filibuster, that token group of Republicans plus most Democrats would be enough to pass the Romney bill or something like it.)
The hostile and then indifferent response to Romney’s child allowance from his Republican colleagues — as well as the nearly total absence of meaningfully pro-family legislation from conservative lawmakers — tells us something very important about the future of the pro-life cause in the Republican Party. But maybe not quite what you think.
In the weeks since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, some conservatives and abortion opponents have, as Elaine Godfrey reported in The Atlantic, expressed the hope that their movement and political party would turn their attention to the material well-being of mothers, families and children. So far, that hope seems to be misplaced.
Free, now, to pursue whatever policies they’d like on abortion, most Republican lawmakers and anti-abortion activists appear to be focused on passing harsh new restrictions on reproductive autonomy and creating broad protections for “fetal life.”
Trigger laws and prior statutes have already made abortion illegal in roughly a dozen states. Legislators in Missouri and Texas want to pass laws that would extend their bans across state lines, to punish residents who go to other states to obtain abortions. South Carolina Republicans, likewise, have drafted legislation that would ban all abortions except to prevent the death of the mother and would prosecute anyone “conspiring to cause, or aiding or abetting, illegal abortion.” And an Ohio bill would recognize the “personhood” and constitutional rights of “all unborn human individuals from the moment of conception.”
What you won’t find passing anytime soon in any Republican-led state legislature are bills to reduce the cost of childbearing and child-rearing. At most, a few states that have or will ban abortion have extended postpartum care under Medicaid. But there are no major plans to improve coverage or provide new benefits. As a practical matter, the pro-welfare, anti-abortion politician does not exist, at least not in the Republican Party.
The policy correlation is, in fact, what you would expect it to be. As a rule, the states with the most generous safety nets and anti-poverty programs are also the states with the widest access to abortion and other reproductive health services. The states with the most restrictive abortion laws are also, as a rule, the states that do the least for families and children as a matter of public policy.
Another way to make this connection is simply to look at a map of states that continue to refuse to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and compare it with a map of states that outlaw (or effectively outlaw) abortion. The overlap fits the pattern.
This distance — between the rhetoric of “life” and the reality of conservative Republican governance — only looks like hypocrisy. In truth, it is perfectly consistent.
That’s because the Republican ideal of a “pro-family” agenda is girded on traditional hierarchies. Reproductive autonomy, up to and including the right to get an abortion, weakens hierarchies of gender. And the social safety net — especially one that extends directly to mothers and children — undermines the preferred conservative social order of isolated, atomized households kept in line through market discipline.
If the goal of abortion opponents and politicians is to encourage life and promote families, then, yes, their interests and priorities are at odds with their actions. But if the goal is a more rigid and hierarchical world of untrammeled patriarchal authority, then, well, things are pretty much going according to plan.
By uncovering disturbing patterns that are as prevalent today as ever, philosopher Jacob Stanley reveals in How Fascism Works: The Politics of Us and Them that the stuff of politics—charged by rhetoric and myth—can quickly become policy and reality. Only by recognizing fascist politics, he argues, may we resist its most harmful effects and return to democratic ideals.
For this conversation Stanley is joined by Harvard associate professor of History Elizabeth Hinton.
Racism makes societies vulnerable to fascism
look I’m white but it’s in my
self-interest to fight against racism
because it opens my society to fascism
Are economics responsible for fascism?
for family issues back in Ohio and I
would go through rural Ohio but I see no
feline annex and I’d see poverty and
nobody Cambridge you about under and and
it wasn’t covered you know and so I
always say follow the money and there’s
no money in the rural areas and
globalism works in Boston and San
Francisco but it doesn’t seem to work in
rural America and so I always think that
globalism is doomed and democracy is
doomed if they can’t figure out a way to
put rural Americans into this economy
that doesn’t that that doesn’t seem to
have happened I was I was in southern
Ohio and a family gathering in Lebanon
Ohio and the fireman was talking to me
in there was part of the group and he
said he’s retiring early because he
can’t stand picking up opioid addicts in
a little talons Ohio with 10,000 people
he’s got a five six calls a day take
care of over those people and people
shooting out in cars
so yeah and this is little little
hometown you know Warren Ohio is dead so
you’re raising a couple different relate
related points but both very important
first of all we haven’t talked much
about political economy and I think it’s
very important to talk about political
economy as as a factor also in the
factor in the far-right movement like
what’s happening it’s all right now
fascism is not fascist politics not
being used to like buttress military
empire as much as its used to other one
other than Yemen and so it is but but it
it’s being used to like funnel money
into oligarchs hands and blah and sort
of like throw sand in the face of people
with genuine economic concerns but the
I mean it’s not just the rural Midwest
like my partner is a doctor physician in
New Haven New Haven Connecticut has a
horrific OPA opioid problem I mean the
pharmaceutical companies I mean they
delivered a whole bunch of opioids to a
lot of people and and it’s a problem
that is the dhih industrialized areas
I mean opiates horrific it’s like what
60,000 deaths last year 70,000 deaths so
so but and it’s it’s tricky figuring out
you know Carl Hart’s work would say it’s
it’s mainly an economic problem you
solve people’s economic issues and
they’re not gonna be opioid addicts but
but but you’re you’re I mean one thing
about the economic anxiety point is that
if you look at who was affected by the
Great Recession the group that was most
affected by the Great Recession I think
were people of color but they didn’t
flee into the arms of fascism you know they
didn’t start voting for or you know they
didn’t vote for Trump so I I don’t think
so it can’t I think that economic and
and then you look worldwide my book is
about the world and you look at Poland
like the Civic Platform in Poland
like the Civic Platform expanded the GDP
radically Poland was doing really well
economically and then law and justice
came in and did all these tactics and
one look at Bavaria one of the richest
areas in the world Bavaria is filled
with this you say oh say offer so the
economic anxiety does not match all the
areas it can explain it can explain why
some groups in some areas fall prey to
this politics but looking
internationally the politics gets a grip
and even looking nationally because it
gets a grip on some groups and not the
other others and if you look at if you
look at and my book is about why it gets
a grip when it’s so obviously a false
promise and so in the United States when
we talk about the poor working class we
– we – the white working class we forget
a chapter and Du Bois as black
reconstruction is a poor white you know
we have to talk about the psychological
wages of whiteness we have to talk about
and and the response is of course an
economic response is a labor movement a
labor movement you know when they smash
the labor movements in the Upper Midwest
suddenly people felt much more prey to
this kind of politics and so you know so
I think we do face this crisis we need a
labor movement that’s why they went
after the labor movement we’re in a
crisis after the Janice decision and and
so we have to rebuild the labor we
wouldn’t give people economic hope I’m
not sure it’s as globalization as much
as it’s the lack of a of a of a labor
movement in the United States
I mean German manufacturing is doing
fine and German labor is doing fine
history and making history no but I
guess how do you make it known
given that the I mean given what you’re
talking about you know the attack on
truth the discrediting of sources the
control of educational boards or
institutions by people who might not be
in their interest a place you know I
mean so what I don’t know if that’s I
mean if doing it’s having conversations
like this I mean I think it’s it’s it’s
really up to us and this is like in
terms of thinking about what is the role
of academics right now I mean people who
do research is – it’s one I think that
qualitative research in general is just
D legitimized and it’s it’s dismissed as
not being true despite the fact that you
know my I don’t use my data doesn’t come
from surveys it’s not in document since
the ways in which I’m interpreting those
documents just like it’s the ways in
which other people are interpreting
their quantitative data and so I think
that you know right now the other kind
of struggle going on in universities is
the growing attack in many ways on the
liberal on liberal arts in general which
is tied to the developments that Jason
described so eloquently in the book so I
think part of it is you know doing the
work of having discussions like this
it’s amazing that there’s so many people
here and we’re having this really engage
an important discussion that takes a lot
out of us but that’s I think part of our
responsibility as as researchers as
scholars as intellectuals to try to
write in accessible ways Jason was just
telling me that he’s been on the radio
for like ten hours this week that’s
doing the work that’s doing that
important work and I think part of the
difficulty is in many in in many
instances we we end up kind of preaching
to the choir you can only go on Berkeley
radio so many times I mean
– is also kind of moving into different
spaces where we might be less
comfortable when I get invited to speak
with libertarian or white ring groups
are I’m happy to go because knowing that
I might be walking into an abrasive
situation you know I tried to make my
book and my research as undeniable as
possible and I think the argument that
you’ve laid out in this book is also
undeniable and that’s how I think we can
begin to think about re-educating
correcting the false narratives and
erasing the untruths the mythic past
that’s been created in history is I
think really historical work is really
key to that we don’t know how we got
here unless we really really understand
the past yeah I just want I just want to
say you know that’s why do boys ends
ends black reconstruction at the
propaganda of history and that’s why
he’s so corny and capitalizes truth you
know that’s that’s that’s what gets me
upset when people attack for instance
african-american studies as as has been
happening a lot or Gender Studies
because they’re trying to tell the
actual truth of a story that’s not told
and you know and that that’s that’s why
dude you know Dubois is always so corny
about truth see like he’s like you know
when you know erasure and erasure is
never truth you know so and of course
the backlash is always like a little bit
of like at Yale what happened the I mean
I could have told my colleagues the
English department they added googy Wafi
Unga this this goes back to you they had
a GUI hua Theon go to one course and and
there were like 20 articles from
right-wing media about how they’re
eliminating Shakespeare at Yale and it
hit them so by surprise I was like my
colleagues in the English department
like what happened what happened we’re
gonna go as death threats I’m like yeah
you added an African writer to a
required course you know so that’s the
and we we have academic administrators
here they can tell you about this but
there’s there’s you know the very ID so
true like multiple perspective
which doesn’t mean multiple perspectives
doesn’t mean there’s many truths there’s
only one truth that’s why Dubois
capitalizes it but the truth involves
you know that the Nate what happened to
the indigenous populations as well as
what happened to Dale Carnegie
Fascism is a cult of the leader, who promises national restoration in the face of supposed humiliation by immigrants, leftists, liberals, minorities, homosexuals, women, in the face of what the fascist leader says is a takeover of the country’s media, cultural institutions, schools by these forces.
Fascist movements typically, though not invariably, rest on an urban/rural divide. The cities are where there’s decadence, where the elites congregate, where there’s immigrants, and where there’s criminality.
Each of these individuals alone is not in and of itself fascist, but you have to worry when they’re all grouped together, seeing the other as less than. Those moments are the times when societies need to worry about fascism.
Read the video transcript: https://bigthink.com/videos/what-is-f…
Loyalty to the dominant group means law-abidingness.06:00And the minority group is by its nature not law-abiding.06:06Law and order in fascist politics means the members06:10of a minority group who accept their subservient role,06:15they’re law-abiding,06:16and the members of the dominant group06:18by their very nature are law-abiding.06:20By definition, the leader can’t violate law and order.06:24So law and order doesn’t mean justice.06:27Law and order doesn’t mean equality.06:29Law and order structures who’s legitimate and who’s not.06:35Everywhere around the world,06:36no matter what the situation is,06:39in very different socioeconomic conditions,06:42the fascist leader comes and tells you,06:44“Your women and children are under threat.06:46You need a strong man to protect your families.”06:50They make conservatives hysterically afraid06:53of transgender rights or homosexuality,06:57other ways of living.06:58These are not people trying to live their own lives.07:02They’re trying to destroy your life,07:03and they’re coming after your children.07:05What the fascist politician does is they take conservatives07:09who aren’t fascist at all, and they say,07:11“Look, I know you might not like my ways.07:14You might think I’m a womanizer.07:16You might think I’m violent in my rhetoric.07:18But you need someone like me now.07:20You need someone like me ’cause homosexuality,07:23it isn’t just trying for equality.07:25It’s coming after your family.”07:29Fascist movements typically, though not invariably,07:33rest on an urban/rural divide.07:36The cities are where there’s decadence,07:38where the elites congregate, where there’s immigrants,07:42there’s criminality, there’s Sodom and Gomorrah.07:45In the city, there’s not real work.07:48The pure, hard-working, real members of the nation live07:53in the rural areas, where they work hard with their hands.07:57When our politicians talk about inner-city voters08:00or urban voters, we all know what they mean.08:05Arbeit macht frei, “Work shall make you free.”08:08This was written on the gates of Auschwitz.08:11The idea is that the minority group, they’re lazy,08:16and they need to be made to work.08:17Free labor.08:19The minority group and the leftists,08:21they’re lazy by their nature,08:23and it gives them a work ethic.08:25Labor unions are run by communists08:28who are trying to make things easier.08:30Hard work is a virtue.08:32In liberal democracy,08:34we don’t value people by how hard they work.08:37What would happen to disabled people who can’t work?08:40They would then have no value.08:41It’s why the Nazis had the T4 program to murder the disabled08:46because the disabled were Lebenunwertes Leben,08:50life unworthy of life,08:52because to be valued was to be capable of hard work.08:56Each of these individual elements is not08:58in and of itself fascist,09:00but you have to worry when they’re all grouped together,09:03when honest conservatives are lured into fascism09:06by people who tell them, “Look, it’s an existential fight.09:09I know you don’t accept everything we do.09:12You don’t accept every doctrine.09:14But your family is under threat.09:16Your family is at risk.09:17So without us, you’re in peril.”09:20Those moments are the times09:23when we need to worry about fascism.
A narcissist deals with shame by offloading it on to other people, a psychopath deals with it by repeatedly bashing your head on the pavement.
Psychopaths have deeply internalised shame which is dealt with by violence. It isn’t that psychopaths do not register shame, but that it is only a fleeting emotion, quickly replaced by rage.Psychopathy-related personality traits and shame management strategies in adolescents – PubMedThe purpose of this study was to examine whether there is a correlation between the amount of psychopathy-related personality traits and the type of shame management in adolescents. Two hypotheses were examined; first, that there is a positive correlation between psychopathy-related personality trai …https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22948170/
Psychopaths are not the cool calm robots of Quora fairy tales, they are creatures of hair trigger rage. Attempting to shame a psychopath is incredibly foolhardy, and rather than harsh words, or feigned indifference, you may be met by very real violence.
Narcissists like to appear to be at the top of the pecking order by affecting the superficialities of power, psychopaths have a system of working out who is there by raw, real world might, physical or otherwise.
Psychopaths are hierachical, like reptiles or apes – you will fight for your position and inciting shame in another is a challenge for their spot, or a refutation of the status they appear to be claiming.
A narcissist in a group of psychopaths who attempted to shame or devalue them in any way would soon receive a physical challenge to their assumed superiority. With psychopaths it’s put up or shut up. Got to pay the cost to be the boss.
As Mac Davidson says, there are no narcissists in prison.
If you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being surrounded by psychopaths, be very civil and polite, do your best not to act haughty or superior as they are very sensitive to shame. Psychopaths do not care about being thought to be a good person, they only care about where they sit in the pecking order. Chances are you’re at the bottom, so act accordingly. Self depreciation is your go to here.
Beat them with brains,
In his peer review of Gebru, Jeff Dean, the head of Google Artificial Intelligence, left only one comment when asked what she could do to have a greater impact, according to documents viewed by The Washington Post: Ensure that her team helps make a promising new software tool for processing human language “consistent with our AI Principles.”
In an email thanking Dean for his review, Gebru let him know that her team was already working on a paper about the ethical risks around the same language models, which are essential to understanding the complexity of language in search queries. On Oct. 20, Dean wrote that he wanted to see a draft, adding, “definitely not my area of expertise, but would definitely learn from reading it.”
Six weeks later, Google fired Gebru while she was on vacation.
“I can’t imagine anybody else who would be safer than me,” Gebru, 37, said. “I was super visible. I’m well known in the research community, but also the regulatory space. I have a lot of grass-roots support — and this is what happened.”
In an internal memo that he later posted online explaining Gebru’s departure, Dean told employees that the paper “didn’t meet our bar for publication” and “ignored too much relevant research” on recent positive improvements to the technology. Gebru’s superiors had insisted that she and the other Google co-authors either retract the paper or remove their names. Employees in Google Research, the department that houses the ethical AI team, say authors who make claims about the benefits of large language models have not received the same scrutiny during the approval process as those who highlight the shortcomings.
Her abrupt firing shows that Google is pushing back on the kind of scrutiny that it claims to welcome, according to interviews with Gebru, current Google employees, and emails and documents viewed by The Post.
It raises doubts about Silicon Valley’s ability to self-police, especially when it comes to advanced technology that is largely unregulated and being deployed in the real world despite demonstrable bias toward marginalized groups. Already, AI systems shape decision-making in law enforcement, employment opportunity and access to health care worldwide.
That made Gebru’s perspective essential in a field that is predominantly White, Asian and male. Women made up only 15 percent of the AI research staff at Facebook and 10 percent at Google, according to a 2018 report in Wired magazine. At Google, Black women make up 1.6 percent of the workforce.
Although Google publicly celebrated Gebru’s work identifying problems with AI, it disenfranchised the work internally by keeping it hierarchically distinct from other AI initiatives, not heeding the group’s advice, and not creating an incentive structure to put in practice the ethical findings, Gebru and other employees said.
Google declined to comment, but noted that in addition to the dozen or so staff members on Gebru’s team, 200 employees are focused on responsible AI.
Google has said that it did not fire Gebru, but accepted her “resignation,” citing her request to explain who at Google demanded that the paper be retracted, according to Dean’s memo. The company also blamed an email Gebru wrote to an employee resource group for women and allies at Google working in AI as inappropriate for a manager. The message warned the group that pushing for diversity was no use until Google leadership took accountability.
Rumman Chowdhury, a former global lead for responsible AI at Accenture and chief executive of Parity, a start-up that helps companies figure out how to audit algorithms, said there is a fundamental lack of respect within the industry for work on AI ethics compared with equivalent roles in other industries, such as model risk managers in quantitative hedge funds or threat analysts in cybersecurity.
“It’s being framed as the AI optimists and the people really building the stuff [versus] the rest of us negative Nellies, raining on their parade,” Chowdhury said. “You can’t help but notice, it’s like the boys will make the toys and then the girls will have to clean up.”
Google, which for decades evangelized an office culture that embraced employee dissent, has fired outspoken workers in recent years and shut down forums for exchange and questioning.
Nearly 3,000 Google employees and more than 4,000 academics, engineers and industry colleagues have signed a petition calling Gebru’s termination an act of retaliation by Google. Last week, nine Democratic lawmakers, including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and Cory Booker (N.J.) and Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (N.Y.), sponsor of the Algorithmic Accountability Act, a bill that would require companies to audit and correct race and gender bias in its algorithms, sent a letter to Google chief executive Sundar Pichai asking the company to affirm its commitment to research freedom and diversity.
Like any good researcher, Gebru is comfortable in the gray areas. And she has been using her ouster as an opportunity to shed light on the black box of algorithmic accountability inside Google — annotating the company’s claims with contradictory data, drawing connections to larger systemic issues, and illuminating the way internal AI ethics efforts can break down without oversight or a change in incentives to corporate practices and power structures.
Big Tech dominates AI research around advancements in machine learning, image recognition, language translation — poaching talent from top universities, sponsoring conferences and publishing influential papers. In response to concerns about the way those technologies could be abused or compound bias, the industry ramped up funding and promotion of AI ethics initiatives, beginning around 2016.
Tech giants have made similar investments in shaping policy debate around antitrust and online privacy, as a way to ward off lawmakers. Pichai invoked Google’s AI principles in an interview in 2018 with The Post, arguing for self-regulation around AI.
Google created its Ethical AI group in 2018 as an outgrowth of an employee-led push to prioritize fairness in the company’s machine learning applications. Margaret Mitchell, Gebru’s co-lead, pitched the idea of a team of researchers investigating the long-term effects of AI and translating those findings into action to mitigate harm and risk.
The same year, Pichai released a broadly worded set of principles governing Google’s AI work after thousands of employees protested the company’s contract with the Pentagon to analyze surveillance imagery from drones. But Google, which requires privacy and security tests before any product launch, has not mandated an equivalent process for vetting AI ethics, employees say.
Gebru, whose family’s ethnic origins are in Eritrea, was born and raised in Ethiopia and came to Massachusetts as 16-year-old after receiving political asylum from the war between the two African countries. She began her career as an electrical engineer at Apple and received her PhD from the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab, studying computer vision under renowned computer scientist Fei-Fei Li, a former Google executive and now co-director of Stanford’s Human-Centered AI Institute, which receives funding from Google.
Gebru did her postdoctoral research at Microsoft Research as part of a group focused on accountability and ethics in AI. There, she and Joy Buolamwini, then a masters student at MIT Media Lab, co-wrote a groundbreaking 2018 study that found that commercial facial recognition tools sold by companies such as IBM and Microsoft were 99 percent accurate at identifying White males, but only 35 percent effective with Black women.
In June, IBM, Microsoft and Amazon announced that they would stop selling the software to law enforcement, which Dean credited to Gebru’s work. She also co-founded Black in AI, a nonprofit organization that increased the number Black attendees at the largest annual AI conference.
Gebru said that in 2018, Google recruited her with the promise of total academic freedom. She was unconvinced, but the company was opening its first artificial intelligence lab on the African continent in Accra, the capital of Ghana, and she wanted to be involved. When she joined Google, Gebru said, she was the first Black female researcher in the company. (When she left, there were still only a handful of Black women working in research, out of hundreds.)
Gebru said she was also drawn to working with Mitchell. Both women prioritized foresight and building practical solutions to prevent AI risk, whereas the operating mind-set in tech is biased toward benefits and “rapid hindsight,” in response to harm, Mitchell said.
Gebru’s approach to ethical AI was shaped by her experiences. Hardware, for instance, came with datasheets that documented whether components were safe to use in certain situations. “When you look at this field as a whole, that doesn’t exist,” said Gebru, an electrical engineer. “It’s just super behind in terms of documentation and standards of safety.”
She also leaned on her industry experience when collaborating with other teams. Engineers live on a product cycle, consumed with putting out fires and fixing bugs. A vague requirement to “make things fair” would only cause more work and frustration, she thought. So she tried to build institutional structures and documentation tools for “when people want to do the right thing.”
Despite their expertise, the Ethical AI group fought to be taken seriously and included in Google’s other AI efforts, employees said.
Within the company, Gebru and her former colleagues said, there is little transparency or accountability regarding how decisions around AI ethics or diversity initiatives get made. Work on AI principles, for instance, falls under Kent Walker, the senior vice president of global affairs, whose vast purview includes lobbying, public policy and legal work. Walker also runs an internal ethics board of top executives, including Dean, called the Advanced Technology Review Council, which is responsible for yes or no decisions when issues escalate, Gebru said. The Ethical AI team had to fight to be consulted on Walker’s initiatives, she said.
“Here’s the guy tasked with covering Google’s a–, lobbying and also … working on AI principles,” Gebru said. “Shouldn’t you have a different entity that pushes back a little bit internally — some sort of push and pull?” What’s more, members of Walker’s council are predominantly vice presidents or higher, constricting diversity, Gebru said.
In her conversations with product teams, such as a group working on fairness in Machine Learning Infrastructure, Gebru said she kept getting questions about what tools and features they could build to protect against the ethical risks involved with large language models. Google had credited it with the biggest breakthrough in improving search results in the past five years. The models can process words in relation to the other words that come before and after them, which is useful for understanding the intent behind conversational search queries.
But despite the increasing use of these models, there was limited research investigating groups that might be negatively impacted. Gebru says she wanted to help develop those safeguards, one of the reasons she agreed to collaborate with the research paper proposed by Emily M. Bender, a linguist at the University of Washington.
Mitchell, who developed the idea of model cards, like nutrition labels for machine learning models, described the paper as “due diligence.” Her model card idea is being adopted more widely across the industry, and engineers needed to know how to fill out the section on harm.
Gebru said her biggest contribution to both her team and the paper has been identifying researchers who study directly-affected communities.
That diversity was reflected in the authors of the paper, including Mark Diaz, a Black and Latino Google researcher whose previous work looked at how platforms leave out the elderly, who talk about ageism in blog posts, but don’t share as much on sites such as Twitter. For the paper, he identified the possibility that large data sets from the Internet, particularly if they are from a single moment in time, will not reflect cultural shifts from social movements, such as the #MeToo movement or Black Lives Matter, which seek to shift power through changes in language.
The paper identified four overarching categories of harm, according to a recent draft viewed by The Post. It delved into the environmental effect of the computing power, the inscrutability of massive data sets used to train these models, the opportunity costs of the “hype” around claims that these models can understand language, as opposed to identifying patterns, and the danger that the real-sounding text generated by such models could be used to spread misinformation.
Because Google depends on large language models, Gebru and Mitchell expected that the company might push back against certain sections or attempt to water down their findings. So they looped in PR & Policy representatives in mid-September, with plenty of time before the deadline for changes at the end of January 2021.
Before making a pre-publication draft available online, Gebru first wanted to vet the paper with a variety of experts, including those who have built large language models. She asked for feedback from two top people at OpenAI, an AI research lab co-founded by Elon Musk, in addition to her manager at Google, and about 30 others. They suggested additions or revisions, Gebru said. “I really wanted to send it to people who would disagree with our view and be defensive,” Gebru said.
Given all their upfront effort, Gebru was baffled when she received a notification for a meeting with Google Research Vice President Megan Kacholia at 4.30 p.m. on the Thursday before Thanksgiving.
At the meeting, Kacholia informed Gebru and her co-authors that Google wanted the paper retracted.
On Thanksgiving, a week after the meeting, Gebru composed a six-page email to Kacholia and Dean outlining how disrespectful and oddly secretive the process had been.
“Specific individuals should not be empowered to unilaterally shut down work in such a disrespectful manner,” she wrote, adding that researchers from underrepresented groups were mistreated.
Mitchell, who is White, said she shared Gebru’s concerns but did not receive the same treatment from the company. “Google is very hierarchical, and it’s been a battle to have any sort of recognition,” she said. “We tried to explain that Timnit, and to a lesser extent me, are respected voices publicly, but we could not communicate upwards.”
“How can you still ask why there aren’t Black women in this industry?” Gebru said.
Gebru said she found out this week that the paper was accepted to the Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency, as part of its anonymous review process. “It’s sad, the scientific community respects us a lot more than anybody inside Google,” she said.