One of the scientists of Google brain, Samy Bengio, announced Tuesday he’ was leaving the company. His resignation followed the firings of colleagues who questioned the job review and diversity practices.
Although at least two Google engineers had previously resigned in protest at the firing of artificial intelligence researcher Timnit Gebru, Bengio is the most prominent who has left.
Google and Samy Bengio did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Bengio, a well-known Google scientist, spent about 14 years with the company and was one of its first employees to participate in a decade-long project known as Google Brain. The project developed algorithms crucial to the operation of several modern artificial intelligence systems.
Bengio said in an email sent to a company that he had decided to leave Google to look for other interesting opportunities.
Firing Google’s two influential scientists caused industry-wide outrage
Google fired scientist Margaret Mitchell in February after claiming she had transferred files outside of the company. In December, the company fired its partner Gebru, who had threatened to resign instead of retracting an article.
Margaret Mitchell, who was an AI ethics researcher at Google, said that she tried to raise concerns about racial and gender inequality and talk about the problematic firing of Dr. Gebru by Google.
Gebru was the Ethical AI Team’s technical co-lead. She is a prominent advocate for technological diversity and is the co-founder of the black researchers’ community, called Black in AI.
Gebru claimed the company wanted to suppress her criticisms of products and her efforts to increase workforce diversity.
Bengio had defended the couple, who co-led a team of a dozen people investigating ethical issues related to Artificial Intelligence software.
Google has not shared the findings of the investigation
In December, Bengio said on Facebook that he was shocked that Gebru, whom he led, was fired from the company without prior consultation.
He did not mention the layoffs in his note.
Bengio said, besides Gebru, he stood by the rest of his team. According to him, the Ethical AI team and the broader Brain Research team were stunned by the firing of Gebru. They have been trying to make sense of all this.
Gebru’s firing resulted in industry-wide outrage, and CEO Sundar Pichai promised to investigate.
In February, Google announced it ended the investigation and made adjustments to diversity and research policies. However, the company refused to share the findings of the investigation.
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