The Google logo outside if the offices in New York City were closed on May 19, 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
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Samy Bengio, a well-known researcher at Google’s research group Brain, announced on Tuesday that he is resigning from Google.
Bengio is the highest-ranking official who deviates in the middle of the fallout from Google̵
“This is one of the most difficult emails I can think of to send to you all: I have decided to leave Google to pursue other exciting opportunities,” Bengio wrote in an email to his Google research team obtained by CNBC. “There is no doubt that it is very difficult to leave this wonderful team.” His last day is April 28th.
Bengio supervised the Gebru team and said in December that he was not notified that the company had fired Gebru. He joined Google in 2007, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Bloomberg first reported Bengio’s departure.
“I stand by you, Timnit,” he wrote in a Facebook post in December. “I also stand by the rest of my team who, like me, were amazed and trying to make sense of all this. Especially the Ethical AI team, but also the broader brain research team.”
Gebru was the technical manager of the Ethical AI Team at Google and worked with algorithmic bias and data mining. She is a well-known advocate for diversity in technology and is a co-founder of a society of black researchers called Black in AI.
CEO Sundar Pichai promised to investigate the industry’s total revolt against Gebru’s shooting. In February, the company said it had completed its investigation and made adjustments to diversity and research policy. It refused to share investigative findings.
But that did not stop the fallout. The company fired Margaret Mitchell, head of Gebru, in February, claiming that she transferred electronic files out of the company. Academics declined funding from Google. At least a few employees have resigned, citing the company’s handling of Gebru’s research and resignation.
Although Bengio did not specifically mention Gebru in his graduation email on Tuesday, he gave kudos to his team for improving their “understanding of machine learning and its impact on the world.”
“I have learned so much from all of you, when it comes to machine learning research of course, but also about how difficult but important it is to organize a large research team to promote long-term ambitious research, exploration, rigor and diversity and inclusion.”
Neither Google nor Samy Bengio responded immediately to requests for comment.
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