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András Tóth
András Tóth

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Inhumane stories from the tech industry: intro

Timnit Gebru and the realization of abnormal

I was following the Timnit Gebru vs. Google story for some time and I have read both sides a bit. When I read the answer of the team lead at Google, I reacted with "Yeah, c'mon, she was openly complaining about things at the company! They would have fired me for less!" and "What's the question about this? If they say 'you are no longer a team fit' then that's it!".

And then it hit me: as a citizen of a democratic country and as a researcher she really expected very normal things like:

  • not getting fired for her opinion 🤐
  • not getting punished for venting with other colleagues 😶
  • not getting censored 🤫
  • getting a sincere, impartial and thorough explanation 🤔

They seem totally normal unless you bring in the corporate world...

10 years in tech industry and none of these sound normal

Realizing this I decided to share with you, the dear reader, a couple of stories in the format of series that happened to me with my suggestions what could have been a humane solution to the problem.

Regarding Timnit Gebru and Google: I am too tiny and live too far from the United States to discuss the potential racial or cultural ingredients of the topic. I only mentioned her as her case was the catalyst and parts of the conflict were very familiar to me.

We need to discuss how can we make the tech industry a humane place, where products are built and the people building them can also stay mentally healthy.

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