A former DeepMind employee has hit out at the Alphabet owned firm for seeking to “discredit” her in a bid to “salvage” its own reputation, after she accused the AI developer of mishandling multiple sexual misconduct complaints.
In an open letter, the former DeepMind employee – referred to only as Julie – said the AI firm’s communications team had sought to “minimise and undermine” her story, in a bid to limit any reputational damage – after she accused the company of failing to deal with sexual misconduct allegations.
Julie accused DeepMind of focusing on “short-term” damage limitation over pursuing any efforts to fix its processes, as she claimed the firm has failed to grapple with the “substantive issues at hand”.
The comments come after the ex-employee last month claimed a senior researcher at the AI firm subjected her to a campaign of sexual harassment and sexually assaulted her twice.
The former employee claimed the firm failed to properly deal with the misconduct allegations, as the senior researcher stayed in his role for more than a year after she first lodged an official complaint.
In her most recent letter, the employee accused the firm of “offering vague platitudes” in response to her initial allegations, as she claimed the firm had “entirely missed the mark”.
Julie said DeepMind had sought to obfuscate the issue by using “transparent attempts” to undermine her experiences of “extreme harassment by a senior staff member”.
The employee said DeepMind had sought to excuse its own actions and challenge her version of events, by casting doubt over the chronology she put forward and seeking to explain away her concerns.
In slamming the firm’s response, the ex-staff member noted DeepMind’s communications strategy had even been cited by public relations news site PR Daily as “an example of how not to handle sensitive allegations.”
DeepMind has been approached for comment.