Responsible AI has a burnout problem

“The loss of one person has a huge impact on the entire organization, because the expertise that someone has accumulated is very difficult to replace,” says Mitchell. At the end of 2020, Google fired its ethical AI co-leader Timnit Gebruand it fired Mitchell a few months later. Some other members Its responsible AI team left in just a few months.

Gupta said this type of brain drain poses “serious risks” to progress in AI ethics and makes it harder for companies to comply with their programs.

Last year, Google announced It has doubled its research staff devoted to AI ethics, but it has not commented on its progress since. The company told MIT Technology Review it offers mental health resilience training, has a peer-to-peer mental health support initiative, and gives employees access to digital tools. to help improve mindfulness. It can also connect them with mental health providers. It did not answer questions about Mitchell’s time at the company.

Meta says it has invested in benefits such as a program that gives employees and their families access to 25 free therapy sessions a year. And Twitter says it offers employee coaching and counseling sessions as well as training on burnout prevention. The company also has a peer support program focused on mental health. None of the companies say they offer tailored support for AI ethics.

As demand for AI compliance and risk management grows, tech executives need to make sure they invest enough in responsible AI programs, Gupta said.

Change starts from scratch. “Executives need to tell their money, their time, their resources, that they are allocating to this,” he said. Otherwise, people working on ethical AI “will fail”.

AI teams that are responsible for success need the tools, resources, and people to solve problems, but they also need agency, organization-wide connections, and the power to make the changes they make. was asked to do, Gupta adds.

A lot of mental health resources at tech companies are focused on time management and work-life balance, says Chowdhury, but more support is needed for those working on topics emotional and psychological problems. Mental health resources dedicated to those working in responsible technology would also be helpful, she adds.

“There has been no recognition of the impact of doing this, and certainly no support or incentive to separate you from it,” says Mitchell.

“The only mechanism the big tech companies have to handle the reality of this is to ignore the reality of it.”

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