Google AI scientist resigns after colleagues' dismissals: report

Google AI scientist resigns after colleagues' dismissals: report
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A Google researcher who oversaw the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) ethics group resigned on Tuesday following the controversial dismissal of two of his former colleagues on the research team, a Google spokesperson confirmed.

The researcher, Samy Bengio, announced he would be leaving in an email to staff obtained by Bloomberg, who first reported on the resignation. Bengio’s last day will be on April 28, the outlet reported.

“While I am looking forward to my next challenge, there’s no doubt that leaving this wonderful team is really difficult,” Bengio reportedly wrote in the email. 

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Google declined to comment further on the resignation. 

In his message, Bengio did not refer to Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, two of his former colleagues leading Google’s work on ethical AI who were ousted in recent months, according to Bloomberg.

Google reorganized the research unit in February, placing the remaining ethical AI group members under Marian Croak and cutting Bengio’s responsibilities, Bloomberg reported. 

Gebru in December said she was fired from Google after she was asked to retract a paper co-written with Mitchell and other Google researchers that detailed ethical considerations of an AI technology used in Google’s search engine. 

Google has called Gebru’s dismissal an acceptance of her resignation. 

After Mitchell expressed her concerns over Gebru’s dismissal on Twitter, she was fired from her position.

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Google said Mitchell was fired over breaking multiple company policies. 

After Gebru’s dismissal, thousands of Google employees rallied behind the researcher, signing a petition to protest the decision. 

Bengio reportedly wrote on Facebook in December that he was stunned that Gebru was removed without his consultation. 

A spokesperson for Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Updated at 9:04 a.m.