When Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James was put on Google 's advisory board on AI, it didn't take long for the internal thought police to swing into action.
Around 2,000 Google employees joined in a revolt against having a conservative leader on a company board.
As the Daily Caller reported last week, their protest included a high degree of nastiness:
Google staffers are in revolt, demanding the removal of Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James from an advisory board the company convened on artificial intelligence.
A petition with more than 2,000 signatories from within the company was published on Medium on Monday, with the title “Googlers Against Transphobia and Hate.”
The petition’s signers described the appointment of Coles, a black grandmother, as a “weaponization of the language of diversity.”
So Google stood up to the revolt, politely explaining the value of a diversity of opinions on an advisory board, right?
No. Google capitulated but in a way that was even more gutless than firing James would have been: gutless Google simply dissolved the board.
James' triggering sin seems to be opposition to the Equality Act, about which she tweeted:
#EqualityAct is anything but equality. This bill would shut down businesses and charities, politicize medicine, endanger parental rights, and open every female bathroom and sports team to biological males.
The Equality Act, to be sure, is a hot button issue. Apparently, in the view of the 2,000 Google staffers nobody is allowed to hold an opinion contrary to this piece of legislation.
Critics of the Equality Act say that it will attempt to marginalize those who believe in traditional marriage and punish charities and adoption agencies that do not accept its gender definitions.
According to the Daily Caller, software engineers Joëlle Skaf, a leader of the revolt against James, explained that it is unnecessary to listen to opinions with which one disagrees:
It is infuriating to see people on this thread give credence to despicable theories just because ‘marketplace of ideas’ or ‘more articulate people’ or whatever else. This is NOT a game. Google has enormous power, power that it frankly seems to not know what to use for. And asking entities like the Heritage Foundation for their opinions on how to use that power is misguided and will not lead an ethical use of AI. … In all cases, Google CONTINUES to show a total lack of leadership on these issues and a total capitulation to the political whims of the moment.
In the last sentence, Skaf makes a valid point–but not quite in the way she meant it.
Let's all Google the word "cowardly."