Home Artificial Intelligence Ex-Amazon Was Told to Ignore Law to Develop AI Faster: Lawsuit

Ex-Amazon Was Told to Ignore Law to Develop AI Faster: Lawsuit

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  • Viviane Ghaderi, a former Amazon exec, is suing the company, alleging misconduct and discrimination.
  • She said her boss told her to ignore legal advice to limit the material an Amazon AI model could use.
  • Ghaderi also alleged that Amazon demoted her for taking maternity leave.

A former Amazon executive is accusing the company of telling her to violate copyright law to compete with other tech giants in AI.

Viviane Ghaderi filed a lawsuit against Amazon in Los Angeles Superior Court, saying she was discriminated against and ultimately fired.

The complaint, dated April 16, was reported earlier this week by The Register, which published the document in full.

Ghaderi said she was tasked with flagging possible legal violations in how Amazon was developing its LLMs, or large-language models.

(LLMs are text-generating services like Open AI’s ChatGPT or Google’s Bard.)

The complaint says Ghaderi’s boss, Andrey Styskin, told her to ignore legal advice and Amazon’s own policies to get better results.

From the lawsuit:

Styskin rejected Ms. Ghaderi’s concerns about Amazon’s internal polices and instructed her to ignore those policies in pursuit of better results because “everyone else”—i.e., other AI companies—”is doing it.”

The allegation about Amazon’s AI work came in a larger case where Ghaderi alleges she was demoted and ultimately fired for taking maternity leave.

In a statement to Business Insider, Amazon spokesperson Montana MacLachlan did not directly address Ghaderi’s claims.

She did say that Amazon does not “tolerate discrimination, harassment, or retaliation in our workplace,” and that it investigates allegations and punishes wrongdoing.

Ghaderi said she took her complaints to HR, which mostly dismissed her claims before ultimately firing her.

BI also sent messages to Ghaderi and the Amazon employees named in the complaint but did not immediately hear back.

Ghaderi’s lawsuit alleges that Amazon violated California’s law protecting whistleblowers and statutes outlawing pregnancy discrimination.

Her attorneys said in the filing that Amazon’s haste to compete in AI left employees like her as “collateral damage in the battle for the future of the technology industry.”

Ghaderi’s LinkedIn said she worked at Amazon until January 2024, though the complaint says she was fired on November 17, 2023.

Ghaderi doesn’t appear to have spoken about her departure from Amazon other than in the lawsuit.

Though Ghaderi’s case is yet to be tested in court, the context of a frantic rush in Silicon Valley to develop AI products is well-attested.

That haste reached Amazon, too — in November 2023, Business Insider’s Eugene Kim reported that it was racing to launch new AI products comparable to Microsoft’s.

AI development is straining the limits of copyright law, as tech companies and publishers wrestle over the ownership and usage of the vast quantities of text the AI models ingest.

Some publishers allege that tech companies owe them billions of dollars for using their work.

The New York Times is pursuing a landmark case against OpenAI, which it says owes it big for using its content to train ChatGPT.

Others have taken a different approach — Axel Springer, BI’s parent company, struck a deal with OpenAI allowing use of its articles.



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