A Google research manager resigned after the controversial firings of two female leaders in his organization. Samy Bengio, who oversaw the ethical AI team before a shakeup in February, is leaving to seek other opportunities, according to Bloomberg. His last day will be April 28.
Bengio was a strong advocate for stellar AI ethics researchers Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, who previously co-led the ethical AI team. Gebru was fired in December while working on an article on the dangers of great language models. Mitchell was fired in February after using a script to search her emails for evidence of discrimination against Gebru.
In a statement on Facebook after the firing, Bengio said he was “stunned” by what happened to Gebru.
The terminations sparked outrage in the tech industry, prompting several researchers to decline funding or other opportunities of Google. Two Google engineers also resigned from the company in protest, citing Gebru’s firing as the main reason for their resignations.
After Gebru’s departure, Google reorganized its research department and assigned Marian Croak, head of the engineering department, to the ethical AI team. The measure cut off Bengio’s responsibilities, according to Bloomberg.
In his farewell letter to staff, Bengio reportedly said that while he was looking forward to his next challenge, leaving Google Brain was difficult. “I learned a lot from all of you, in terms of machine learning research, of course, but also about how difficult but important it is to organize a large team of researchers to promote ambitious long-term research, exploration, rigor, diversity and inclusion.” , wrote. He did not mention the firings of Gebru or Mitchell.