Artificial Intelligence: Google’s Ethical AI Crisis Escalates; Samy Bengio Resigns

April 7, 2021 | Artificial Intelligence, News
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Ousted Ethical AI co-leads Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell had reported to Bengio.

Renowned AI authority and senior AI research manager at Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Samy Bengio, has resigned. His departure, scheduled for April 28, shows the rising discord within Google’s AI ranks, as it follows on the firings of researchers Timnit Gebru and  Margaret Mitchell. The two women reported to Bengio. Google later handed over the charge of Bengio’s department to Mariam Croak. (Bloomberg)

Bengio’s resignation email

“While I am looking forward to my next challenge, there’s no doubt that leaving this wonderful team is really difficult,” Bengio wrote in an email to staff that was seen by Bloomberg.

“I learned so much with all of you, in terms of machine learning research of course, but also on how difficult yet important it is to organize a large team of researchers so as to promote long-term ambitious research, exploration, rigor, diversity, and inclusion.”

He said he decided to leave Google to pursue “other exciting opportunities.”

Bengio was a pioneering member of Google’s AI project known as Google Brain. The project was instrumental in the development of modern AI systems that relied upon algorithms for their functioning.

Gebru and Mitchell

Though Bengio has not linked his resignation to Gebru and Mitchell, his decision was influenced by their firings, according to Reuters, which quoted sources who preferred to stay anonymous.

In a December Facebook post, Bengio wrote: “I stand by you, Timnit. I also stand by the rest of my team who, like me, were stunned and are trying to make sense of all this. In particular the Ethical AI team, but also the broader Brain Research team.”

Margaret Mitchell, however, tweeted a somber response to the news of Bengio’s resignation:

“Resignations coming now bc people started interviewing soon after we were fired. There is a keen interest in responsible/ethical AI outside of Google, so people we worked with have a lot of options. The job offers are just starting now; more resignations are likely.”

Related Story:  After Gebru, Google Terminates Another AI Researcher

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