Inside the fight to reclaim AI from Big Tech’s control

In 2020, as the co-lead of Google’s ethical AI team, Gebru had reached out to Emily Bender, a linguistics professor at the University of Washington, and the two decided to collaborate on research about the troubling direction of artificial intelligence. Gebru wanted to identify the risks posed by large language models, one of the most stunning recent breakthroughs in AI research. The models are algorithms trained on staggering amounts of text. Under the right conditions, they can compose what look like convincing passages of prose.