A new advisory council on Artificial Intelligence (AI) was formed earlier this year at Google. The mission of the board was to advise the tech giant in responsible AI development. Sounds innocuous enough, right? One might even say it’s a worthy exercise from such a powerful force. Then, just like that, the whole thing got political.
Kay Coles James, president of the Heritage Foundation, was invited to join Google’s new advisory board. She did. Then, by all accounts that have since emerged, the protests by liberal activists began almost immediately after the names of the board members were announced. Her crime is that she holds traditional conservative views and is unapologetic about that. In other words, she embodies the political philosophy one would expect from the president of the Heritage Foundation. To the rabid left, though, this makes her an enemy of the LGBTQ community, among other groups, like the open borders crowd.
Earlier this year, Google invited James to join an artificial intelligence advisory council that would exchange views to help guide Google’s policies in this area. No sooner was this announced that some Google employees circulated a petition demanding that the Mountain View, California tech giant remove her from the post.
The petition was eventually signed by some 2,500 people, not just at Google, but at dozens of universities in the United States and Canada and woke companies such as Lyft and Vox Media. The company gave in to the mob last week and disbanded the council.
The name of the petition distributed by Google employees was “Googlers Against Transphobia and Hate”. The original story was reported by Breitbart and is only now beginning to bubble up. I first noticed a bit of the story on social media a few days ago. The more that emerges, the more infuriating the story becomes.
Multiple Google employees in the thread also engaged in outright smears against the Heritage Foundation. Google employees accused the think-tank of transphobia, homophobia, and “extremism,” of viewing LGBT people as “sub-human,” questioning their “humanity,” and supporting “exterminationist” views.
“Would we even consider having a virulent anti-Semite on the advisory board? How about an avowed racist or white supremacist?” asked one Google employee. “This seems like a double standard where anti-LGTBQ positions are tolerated more than other extreme discriminatory views.”
“You don’t need racists, white supremacists, exterminationists on the board to know their stances. you can just talk to their targets” insisted another.
“It’s so upsetting that some of our leaders overlooked such hateful positions as Kay Cole James and the Heritage Foundation have articulated and regularly advocate for,” complained another Google employee.
The comments from the Google crowd continued on, even equating “rhetorical violence” to actual physical violence. You get the picture. Rather than push back and tamp down the critics by insisting that their original inclination to include a conservative viewpoint on the board was good and right, Google caved. Not only did the company oust Mrs. James from the board but Google then simply disbanded the advisory board. How’s that for the ultimate cowardly move? The woke set is so delicate that one conservative voice is just too much to handle.
Here’s the thing though. Mrs. James is a 69-year-old African-American woman with a resume that is the envy of any objective observer. She is a Christian, a scholar, and a civil rights activist. She’s on the wrong side of the arguments of the left, so she must be punished. If the LGBTQ community and Mrs. James’ opinions about it was a real concern, though, why didn’t the petitioners notice that her son is openly gay and she has a strong relationship with his LGBTQ community? They adore her. Instead, Google caved and allowed mob rule to take over. There were even calls for the firing of a Google employee who was bold enough to argue against the mob on Mrs. James’ behalf. One employee, a researcher who attended tech symposiums at the White House during the Obama administration called James “an outspoken bigot.” (Breitbart)
At least one of the Google employees who smeared the Heritage Foundation and its president is a prominent A.I researcher who has attended tech symposiums at the Obama White House. Meredith Wittaker, co-founder of NYU’s A.I. Now Institute and head of two projects at Google, the Open Research Group and the Measurement Lab, is revealed as one of the most vitriolic opponents of conservative involvement in Google A.I.
In the thread, Whittaker describes Kay Coles James, a black conservative who leads one of the most influential think-tanks in D.C., as an “outspoken bigot” who supports policies that “dehumanize and marginalize.”
In a different leaked discussion thread, Whittaker attacked the idea of viewpoint diversity (the idea that it’s valuable to tolerate and include a variety of ideological and political viewpoints) as “dangerous.”
So much for women supporting women. This is just another example of that expression only applying to the left.
As to the accusation of being a bigot, if that was a slam against James for some sort of racist agenda, that slur falls flat, too. She is the founder of The Gloucester Institute, which trains and mentors college-age African-Americans. She has served on many commissions and boards, has several honorary diplomas including “Doctor of Laws from Pepperdine University, the University of Virginia’s Publius Award for Public Service, and the Spirit of Democracy Award for Public Policy Leadership from the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation,” as described on the Heritage Foundation’s website. As I wrote above, her resume is extensive and impressive.
I’m struck by the fact that this is the second story this week I’ve focused on that involves personal attacks on conservative black women by mostly liberal white men. Mrs. James has been working at the helm of Heritage Foundation with little public recognition. Now, thanks to the intolerance of the left, her profile is elevated and that is a good thing for the conservative movement. She is an excellent role model for those considering a conservative alternative to failing liberal policies.
Mrs. James’ Twitter feed was used in the campaign to smear her at Google. Her critics claim her tweets promoted hate and intolerance. The critics then did exactly what they accused her of doing. As her op-ed in the Washington Post pointed out, an opportunity was lost for an alternative viewpoint to be heard. It was just two short weeks between the announcement of the board members and the disbandment of the board.
I was deeply disappointed to see such a promising idea abandoned, but the episode was about much more than just one company’s response to intolerance from the self-appointed guardians of tolerance.
It was symptomatic of where America is heading. Whether in the streets or online, angry mobs that heckle and threaten are not trying to change hearts and win minds. They’re trying to impose their will through intimidation. In too many corners of American life, there is no longer room for disagreement and civil discourse. Instead, it’s agree or be destroyed.
My fellow advisory-council members have now been deprived of the opportunity to question me about what they might see as the contradiction of my policy views and my absolute unconditional acceptance of every member of the human family. They may not have agreed with me, but they would have understood me better — and I, them. With that, we would have had the opportunity to work together to make better public policy on an exceedingly critical issue.
I believe there are many opportunities for a civil discussion of religious values and how they conflict with other values. Some on the left are willing to engage in such an open-minded debate. But too often those on the left are turning into the very thing they say they despise, using hate and stereotyping to try to silence anyone they regard as an enemy. The public square is becoming so poisonous that good liberals and good conservatives must be wary of coming together to discuss ideas and seek solutions.
She’s right. The left is intolerant and unwilling to listen to differing points of view. I’ll end this with Mrs. James’ Twitter thread of what happened to her. She is a woman to be admired, not dehumanized.
.@Google decided this year to create an advisory council that would help guide the company in the responsible development of artificial intelligence. When the company asked me to join, I agreed, welcoming the opportunity to contribute my perspective as a conservative leader.
— Kay C. James (@KayColesJames) April 10, 2019