Home research company Two members of Google’s Ethical AI group leave to join Timnit Gebru nonprofit

Two members of Google’s Ethical AI group leave to join Timnit Gebru nonprofit


Two members of Google’s Ethical AI group have announced their departure from the company, according to a report by Bloomberg. Principal investigator Alex Hanna and software engineer Dylan Baker will join Timnit Gebru’s nonprofit research institute, Distributed AI Research (DAIR).

In one post announcing his resignation on MediumHanna criticizes the “toxic” work environment at Google, and draws attention to a lack of representation of black women within the company.

“Before Timnit was hired, Google Research management had never hired a black woman as a researcher,” says Hanna. “At a town hall around Googlegeist (Google’s annual workplace climate survey), a high-level executive remarked that there had been such a low number of black women in the Google Research organization that they couldn’t even present a point estimate of those employees’ dissatisfaction with the organization, lest management risk anonymizing the results.

Gebru, the former co-head of Google’s AI Ethical research group, was fired by the company in 2020 after he co-wrote a research paper that drew attention to the potential risks of models of large-scale language, a concept similar to that Google Search employs. The search giant fired another AI ethics researcher, Margaret Mitchell, for her involvement in Gebru’s paper soon after.

While the company’s diversity report last year showed an overall increase in the number of black employees it hired, there was still an increase in the number of women of color leaving the company. company – at the time of the report’s publication, black women made up 1.8% of Google’s workforce. And in December, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) launched an investigation into Google’s treatment of black female workers.

“We appreciate the contributions of Alex and Dylan – our research into Responsible AI is extremely important, and we continue to expand our work in this area in accordance with our AI Principles,” the Google spokesperson said, Brian Gabriel, in a statement emailed to The edge. “We are also committed to building a business where people of different opinions, backgrounds and experiences can do their best and show up for each other. »