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Google AI researcher accused of sexual harassment in disturbing blog post

He allegedly pressured women into having sex with him.


Phillip Tracy


Posted on Dec 18, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 7:41 am CDT

A flood of sexual harassment allegations have sent shock waves through Silicon Valley, and the list of companies affected continues to grow. The latest addition: Google.

An artificial intelligence researcher working for the search giant was suspended after being accused of inappropriately touching women. The incident was described in a Medium blog post on Wednesday by data scientist Kristian Lum, who said a man she referred to as “S” grabbed her and pressured her friend to have sex with him. Two people familiar with the matter reportedly told Bloomberg the man is Steven Scott, a senior AI researcher at Google.

After a 2010 mathematics conference, while Lum was swimming with other researchers, “S” allegedly grabbed her under the water, “putting his hands on my torso, hips, and thighs.” Lum also says Scott “took advantage of a junior person” and was overheard bragging about “banging smokin’ hot chicks.”

“Since then, I have heard one professor who witnessed the incident openly lament that he’ll have to find a way to delicately advise his female students on ‘how not to get raped by S’ so as not to lose promising students,” Lum wrote.

Scott, who has worked for Google since 2008, had his candidacy for the International Society for Bayesian Analysis (ISBA) taken away after Lum’s post spread through social media.

“I’d love to tell my side of the story, but I’m afraid you’ll need to get it from,” Scott wrote in an email to Bloomberg.

Lum also describes how another “well-respected academic” touched her on the leg and said her dress was “way too sexy for a poster session.” He then sent her inappropriate messages on Facebook about sex and pornography. The man, who allegedly has a reputation for inappropriate conduct, is Bradley Carlin, an expert in biostatistics, according to Bloomberg.

“Right before I ever attended my first conference, one of the women who was a year ahead of me in my program pulled me aside to warn about him,” Lum wrote. “She told me to do my best to avoid him at the conference but ‘every woman has a story about him, so it’s only a matter of time.’”

Carlin, a professor at the University of Minnesota, referred questions to the University.

Lum’s allegations come during a widespread crackdown on sexual harassment. Before Harvey Weinstein’s sexual harassment scandal shook Hollywood and spread into other industries via the #MeToo movement, Silicon Valley was reeling from allegations made by former Uber employee Susan Fowler. Her blog post resulted in a lengthy company-wide investigation and the firing of more than a dozen employees.

We have reached out to Google and the University of Minnesota and will update this article if we hear back.

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*First Published: Dec 18, 2017, 8:55 am CST