Google AI chief Samy Bengio resigns over colleagues' firing and racial discrimination
The protest in Google began after firing of Timnit Gebru, who, now, took to Twitter to lend support to her former employee
In the continuing fight against racism in the tech giant, Google researcher manager Samy Bengio has resigned from the company, a little after his colleagues questioned diversity in the company.
Bengio has resigned after a couple of his colleagues put down their papers to protest against the firing of artificial intelligence researcher Timnit Gebru. Bengio is the highest-ranking employee to leave the tech giant.
The protest in Google began after firing of Timnit Gebru, who, now, took to Twitter to lend support to her former employee. "This news of Samy’s resignation just reminds me of how easy it is to destroy something & how hard it is to build it. We worked so hard to improve the environment & we were starting to have some success after so much exhaustion. And in one swoop, just like that, gone," Twitter post read.
This news of Samy’s resignation just reminds me of how easy it is to destroy something & how hard it is to build it. We worked so hard to improve the environment & we were starting to have some success after so much exhaustion. And in one swoop, just like that, gone.— Timnit Gebru (@timnitGebru) April 7, 2021
Bengio's resignation has come a few months after Margaret Mitchell, a lead artificial intelligence ethics researcher, took to Twitter to announce the termination of her employment with Google.
"This manager's conduct, we confirmed that there were multiple violations of our code of conduct, as well as of our security policies, which included the exfiltration of confidential business-sensitive documents and private data of other employees," Google was quoted by the news agency AFP.
Google had claimed that Mitchell was involved in illegal activities which were causing danger for the security of the tech giant's data.
However, her termination came a few days after she wrote a letter to the authorities about the unjust firing of her colleague, and Mitchell claims her termination was due to that letter.
I am concerned about @timnitGebru 's firing from Google and its relationship to sexism and discrimination. I wanted to share the email I wrote to Google press the day my access was cut off.https://t.co/O7JPlqJW8L— MMitchell (@mmitchell_ai) February 5, 2021
"The firing of Dr. Timnit Gebru is not okay, and the way it was done is not okay. It appears to stem from the same lack of foresight that is at the core of modern technology, and so itself serves as an example of the problem," she wrote in the letter.
She also added that "the firing seems to have been fueled by the same underpinnings of racism and sexism that our AI systems, when in the wrong hands, tend to soak up.”