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Google Employees Who Organized Mass Walkout Say They’re Being Retaliated Against

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Google Employees Who Organized Mass Walkout Say They’re Being Retaliated Against 22 google walkout

On Nov. 1, 2018, thousands of Google employees around the world staged a walkout, sparked by outrage that the tech giant quietly handed out massive golden parachutes to executives accused of serious sexual harassment allegations.

Now, two of the employees who helped organize the protest say Google is retaliating against them ― and other activists ― for their roles in the walkout.

Google employees Meredith Whittaker and Claire Stapleton made the allegations in a letter sent to co-workers on Monday. Whittaker says Google dramatically changed her role at the company after the rally by disbanding an artificial intelligence ethics council she co-founded. And despite years of high performance reviews, Stapleton was demoted and told to take leave.

After Wired magazine published a copy of the letter, Whittaker reinforced her core message on Twitter.

“Google’s retaliation isn’t about me, or Claire Stapleton,” she wrote. “It’s about silencing dissent & making us more afraid to speak honestly about tech & power. NOT OK. Now more than ever, it’s time to speak up.”

In an email to HuffPost, Google denied any sort of retaliation had taken place, casting the work reassignments as a normal occurrence in a constantly shifting industry. 

“We prohibit retaliation in the workplace, and investigate all allegations,” a Google spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “Employees and teams are regularly and commonly given new assignments, or reorganized, to keep pace with evolving business needs. There has been no retaliation here.”

Here’s the full internal post, as relayed by Wired:

Google is retaliating against several organizers.

We are among them and here is what’s happening to us:

Meredith

Just after Google announced that it would disband its AI ethics council, I was informed my role would be changed dramatically. I’m told that to remain at the company I will have to abandon my work on AI ethics and the AI Now Institute, which I cofounded, and which has been doing rigorous and recognized work on these topics. I have worked on issues of AI ethics and bias for years, and am one of the people who helped shape the field looking at these problems. I have also taken risks to push for a more ethical Google, even when this is less profitable or convenient.

Claire

After five years as a high performer in YouTube Marketing (and almost twelve at Google), two months after the Walkout, I was told that I would be demoted, that I’d lose half my reports, and that a project that was approved was no longer on the table. I escalated to HR and to my VP, which made things significantly worse. My manager started ignoring me, my work was given to other people, and I was told to go on medical leave, even though I’m not sick. Only after I hired a lawyer and had her contact Google did management conduct an investigation and walked back my demotion, at least on paper. While my work has been restored, the environment remains hostile and I consider quitting nearly every day.

Our stories aren’t the only ones. Google has a culture of retaliation, which too often works to silence women, people of color, and gender minorities. Retaliation isn’t always obvious. It’s often confusing and drawn out, consisting of icy conversations, gaslighting, project cancellations, transition rejections, or demotions. Behavior that tells someone the problem isn’t that they stood up to the company, it’s that they’re not good enough and don’t belong.

During the Walkout, we collected 350 stories. Reading them, a sad pattern emerges: People who stand up and report discrimination, abuse, and unethical conduct are punished, sidelined, and pushed out. Perpetrators often go unimpeded, or are even rewarded (Andy, Amit, “I reported, he got promoted”).

By punishing those who resist discrimination, harassment, and unethical decision making. Google permits these behaviors. This harms people inside the company, and communities outside who bear the brunt of Google’s bad choices. If we want to stop discrimination, harassment, and unethical decision making, we need to end retaliation against the people who speak honestly about these problems.

We need to push back. Here are some next steps:

1. We will be hosting a Retaliation Town Hall to share our stories and strategize. When: Friday, April 26, 11am PT/2pm ET. Add the event to your calendar here. The message included an internal link to a livestream of the meeting.

2. If you’ve been retaliated against, please share your story. (If you shared your story with the Walkout form, feel free to reshare and help keep everything in one place.) The more we share with each other, the easier it will be to push back. Add yours.

Sincerely,

Meredith, Claire

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An implantable device that produces energy using ultrasound

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An implantable device that produces energy using ultrasound 5d441a4f39d71

A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in the Republic of Korea has developed a type of implantable device that produces energy using an external ultrasound source. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their device, how it was built and how well it worked when tested on animal tissue.

The development of the pacemaker has undoubtedly saved many lives, but it also has risks for patients that have them implanted into their chests. The devices have to be replaced periodically, putting patients at risk of infection—there is also some degree of pain and irritation involved. For that reason, scientists have searched for ways to generate power inside the body, making batteries unnecessary. In this new effort, the researchers have designed a generator that produces power when exposed to an ultrasound source.

The generator designed by the researchers is a type of triboelectric generator. Such generators harvest energy from the triboelectric effect—where contact electrification occurs when two dissimilar objects touch and are then pulled apart—static electricity is an example of the triboelectric effect. The generator used by the team had two squares of material inside of it that were forced together when exposed to ultrasound. When the ultrasound signal was removed, the materials separated and a small amount of electricity was produced and captured in the generator. By repeating the process over and over in rapid succession, a constant stream of electricity was generated. The team also added other components to their device to allow for interfacing with other devices—and they had to make sure it could withstand being implanted into a living creature.
The researchers tested their generator by implanting it into some pig tissue at various depths and then firing ultrasound at it through the skin. They report that at depths of five millimeters, the generator produced electricity with a current up to 156 microamps and up to 2.4 volts. At depths of a centimeter, the generator was able to produce 98 microamps and 1.9 volts. The researchers note that if such agenerator could be used to run pacemakers and other implantable devices, patients could be spared the necessity of having to undergo surgery to have them replaced periodically.

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Scientists reveal first-ever image of a black hole

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Scientists reveal first-ever image of a black hole 5cadf80e3d1d3

Scientists on Wednesday revealed the first image ever made of a black hole, depicting its hot, shadowy edges where light bends around itself in a cosmic funhouse effect.

Assembling data gathered by eight radio telescopes around the world, astronomers created the picture showing the violent neighborhood around a supermassive black hole, the light-sucking monsters of the universe theorized by Einstein more than a century ago and confirmed by observations for decades.

It looked like a flaming orange, yellow and black ring.

“We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole. Here it is,” said Sheperd Doeleman of Harvard.

Read: New map of universe shows 300,000 more galaxies

Jessica Dempsey, a co-discoverer and deputy director of the East Asian Observatory in Hawaii, said it reminded her of the powerful flaming Eye of Sauron from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.

Unlike smaller black holes that come from collapsed stars, supermassive black holes are mysterious in origin. Situated at the center of most galaxies, including ours, they are so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape their gravitational pull.

This one’s “event horizon” the point of no return around it, where light and matter begin to fall inexorably into the abyss is as big as our entire solar system.

Three years ago, scientists using an extraordinarily sensitive observing system heard the sound of two much smaller black holes merging to create a gravitational wave, as Albert Einstein predicted.

The new image, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and announced around the world in several news conferences, adds light to that sound.

Outside scientists suggested the achievement could be worthy of a Nobel Prize, just like the gravitational wave discovery.

While much around a black hole falls into a death spiral and is never to be seen again, the new image captures “lucky gas and dust” circling at just far enough to be safe and seen millions of years later on Earth, Dempsey said.

Taken over four days when astronomers had “to have the perfect weather all across the world and literally all the stars had to align,” the image helps confirm Einstein’s general relativity theory, Dempsey said.

Einstein a century ago even predicted the symmetrical shape that scientists just found, she said. “It’s circular, but on one side the light is brighter,” Dempsey said.

That’s because that light is approaching Earth.

The measurements are taken at a wavelength the human eye cannot see, so the astronomers added color to the image. They chose “exquisite gold because this light is so hot,” Dempsey said. “Making it these warm gold and oranges makes sense.”

What the image shows is gas heated to millions of degrees by the friction of ever-stronger gravity, scientists said.

And that gravity creates a funhouse effect where you see light from both behind the black hole and behind you as the light curves and circles around the black hole itself, said astronomer Avi Loeb, director of the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard. (The lead scientists in the discovery are from Harvard, but Loeb was not involved.)

The project cost $50 million to $60 million, with $26 million of that coming from the National Science Foundation.

Johns Hopkins astrophysicist Ethan Vishniac, who was not part of the discovery team but edits the journal where the research was published, pronounced the image “an amazing technical achievement” that “gives us a glimpse of gravity in its most extreme manifestation.”

He added: “Pictures from computer simulations can be very pretty, but there’s literally nothing like a picture of the real universe, however fuzzy and monochromatic.”

“It’s just seriously cool,” said John Kormendy, a University of Texas astronomer who wasn’t part of the discovery team. “To see the stuff going down the tubes, so to speak, to see it firsthand.

The mystique of black holes in the community is very substantial. That mystique is going to be made more real.”

There is a myth that says a black hole would rip you apart, but Loeb and Kormendy said the one pictured is so big, someone could fall into it and not be torn to pieces. But the person would never be seen from again.

Black holes are “like the walls of a prison. Once you cross it, you will never be able to get out and you will never be able to communicate,” Loeb said.

The first image is of a black hole in a galaxy called M87 that is about 53 million light years from Earth. One light year is 5.9 trillion miles, or 9.5 trillion kilometers. This black hole is about 6 billion times the mass of our sun.

The telescope data was gathered by the Event Horizon Telescope two years ago, but it took so long to complete the image because it was a massive undertaking, involving about 200 scientists, supercomputers and hundreds of terabytes of data delivered worldwide by plane.

The team looked at two supermassive black holes, the M87 and the one at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy. The one in our galaxy is closer but much smaller, so they both look the same size in the sky. But the more distant one was easier to take pictures of because it rotates more slowly.

“We’ve been hunting this for a long time,” Dempsey said. “We’ve been getting closer and closer with better technology.”

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