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Google is a leading technological company. Its most influential products include YouTube, Google Search, Android, Adsense, GSuite, Google drive, Google Maps, Google Translate.

Ethics in recommender systems

Around 2017, Google seems to have engaged in the ethics of its algorithms, for instance by manually adapting answers to search queries about vaccination or climate change Hoang-20.

It also started to invest in an AI ethics team, co-led by Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell.

AI Ethics Team Controversy

In December 2020, Timnit Gebru, world-class researcher and co-lead of Google's AI ethics team, has been laid off in obscure circumstances BusinessInsider-20. A core reason for this seems to be Gebru's protest against the demand of retraction of BenderGMS-21, a paper she co-authored on the ethical concerns around a large-scale deployment of large language models TechnologyReview-20 Science4All-20.

In reaction, an open letter protesting the lay-off was co-signed by 2695 Googlers and 4302 academic, industry, and civil society supporters GoogleWalkout-20. This represents ~ 2.5% of Google and < 0.1% of the technology industry.

In January 2021, Margaret Mitchell, the other co-lead of the AI ethics team, was locked out from Google too, also in unusual circumstances Bloomberg-21. In February, she was then fired NYTimes-21. This raised serious concerns about the importance given to ethics by the legal and PR teams of the company, as well as by the direction Science4All-21, as Google is researching and developing ever more larger language models FedusZS-21.