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Li Fei-Fei – Twitter board member and Professor of AI at Stanford and Tsinghua

MERICS, Berlin­
­Chinese-born American computer scientist Li Fei-Fei has made headlines again with her recent appointment to the board of directors at Twitter.

Li is well known as a leading academic in the field of AI. She is a professor at Stanford University in the United States and an adviser on AI to China’s Tsinghua University. During a sabbatical from Stanford from 2017 to 2018 she served as Chief Scientist of AI and machine learning at Google Cloud.

Born in Beijing in 1976, she moved to the United States at the age of 12. After school, she studied physics at Princeton University and went on to gain a PhD in electrical engineering from California Institute of Technology.

She is considered to have made a significant contribution the area of deep learning, but her appointment to the Twitter board has attracted criticism with some saying it raises a potential conflict of interest. Li’s role as an independent director means she could be involved in high-level decisions about labelling propaganda and state media accounts. However, Li is claimed to have ties to a student association that is affiliated with the CCP’s United Front and in 2017 she was recipient of the CCP’s Top Ten Female Figures award.

Allegations have been made that the Twitter accounts of a number of Chinese dissidents have been deleted from the social media site since Li joined the board of directors. A petition was created on the White House website calling for a “thorough investigation on Twitter’s violation of freedom of speech”.

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