Hashtag Trending – Google engineers resign over Gebru firing; Amazon’s “Megacycle” shift for warehouse workers; Clearview AI troubles in Canada

Two Google engineers resign over the firing of two women at the company, the internet groans after hearing about Amazon’s plans to introduce a 10-hour graveyard shift, known as the “megacycle,” and the controversial tech company Clearview AI is facing some heat in Canada.

It’s all the tech news that’s popular right now. Welcome to Hashtag Trending! It’s Friday, February 5, and I’m your host Alex Coop.


Two Google engineers resign over firing of AI ethics researcher Timnit Gebru from technology

“They were wronged.” Those were the words of former Google software engineer Vinesh Kannan, who took to Twitter this week to express his frustration at Google for the firing of two employees. Kannan says he’s leaving the company because Google mistreated its former AI researcher Timnit Gebru, and April Christina Curley, a recruiter, by wrongfully firing both of them. According to Reuters, David Baker, a director focused on user safety, also left Google last month after 16 years because of Gebru’s exit. He told the publication that Gebru’s firing “ “extinguished my desire to continue as a Googler.” The resignations come after more than 800 Google employees joined a union last month to advance workplace protections. That’s on top of the more than 2,600 of its 135,000 employees who signed a December letter supporting Gebru.


Motherboard is reporting that Amazon has been quietly transitioning warehouse workers at Amazon warehouses nationwide to a 10-hour graveyard shift, known as the “megacycle.” The publication says that on Jan. 25, hundreds of Amazon warehouse workers in Chicago were presented with a choice: sign up for a grueling graveyard shift, or say goodbye to your job. Organized workers at the facility who go by DCH1 Amazonians United told Motherboard “[This decision] is cruel and the antithesis of family-friendly corporate responsibility.” The story sadly concludes that workers at the facility are saying that management has refused to offer workers any accommodations, which could force many to lose their jobs. 



And lastly, four of Canada’s privacy commissioners have denounced the controversial facial recognition company Clearview AI. Reddit is buzzing about the investigation done by Canada’s federal privacy commissioner and three provincial privacy commissioners. It concludes that Clearview AI’s technology allowed law enforcement and commercial organizations to match photographs of random people against the company’s databank of more than three billion images. These images included adults and children for investigation purposes without their knowledge or consent. Commissioners warned this creates a risk of significant harm to individuals, the vast majority of whom have never been and will never be implicated in a crime.

In addition, the report noted that Clearview collected, used and disclosed Canadians’ personal information for inappropriate purposes, which cannot be rendered appropriate via consent. Clearview AI quickly distanced itself from the findings, saying consent isn’t required because the info is already publicly available, and that it can’t be held responsible for offering services to law enforcement that make mistakes in its assessment of an investigation into an individual. It’s a bunch of nonsense and the commissioners thought so too. Read our full coverage at IT World Canada.com

Clearview AI violated privacy rights of Canadians with facial recognition tech, say privacy commissioners

That’s all the tech news that’s trending right now. Hashtag Trending is a part of the ITWC Podcast network. Add us to your Alexa Flash Briefing or your Google Home daily briefing. I’m Alex Coop, thanks for listening!

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada
Alex Coop
Alex Coophttp://www.itwc.ca
Former Editorial Director for IT World Canada and its sister publications.

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