Google is once again stuck in a Catch-22.
If it bends to pressure from more than 1,200 employees who signed a petition calling on the company to remove the leader of a conservative think tank from its new ethics advisory board, it risks intensifying allegations from President Trump and Republicans that it is biased against conservatives. But if it keeps Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James on the board, it could alienate employees and potential recruits who think her positions on LGBTQ and gender issues are at odds with the company's diversity commitments.
James's inclusion on the advisory board was a potential sign that the search giant is hearing this growing criticism from Republicans. But Johnson says the backlash raises many more questions.
“If tech companies claim that they want to build platforms that encourage thoughtful debate and empathy, but they cannot achieve that within own workforces, what does it say about their ability to build these forums?” Johnson told me.
The controversy began last week as Google unveiled its Advanced Technology External Advisory Council, which convened artificial intelligence experts from around the world. The company’s inclusion of James drew immediate scrutiny on social media, particularly because of the political positions they said James took on gender issues and immigration. Over the weekend, another member of the committee, Alessandro Acquisti, dropped out — vaguely saying he no longer thought it was the right forum for him to influence ethical discussions. Read more via Washington Post