- Google’s AI ethics team, in a letter to the company’s top management has put forth demands to bring back AI researcher Timnit Gebru at a higher position.
- Gebru, in a series of tweets noted that she had been fired. However, Google the AI division chief Jeff Dean said in a statement that she had resigned.
- Google CEO, Sundar Pichai had earlier this week said he would review the exit of Gebru but did not mention if she had resigned or was fired.
Google's AI ethics team, in a letter to the company's top management has put forth demands to bring back AI researcher Timnit Gebru at a higher position. The employees also demanded to make a public commitment to uphold research integrity and integrate racial literacy training. The employees demanded that company vice president, Megan Kacholia, should no longer be part of their reporting chain. "We have lost trust in her as a leader," the researchers wrote, according to the letter obtained by Bloomberg.
The letter was also addressed to Google CEO, Sundar Pichai, who earlier this week said that he would review the exit of Gebru after an outrage among the employees. "We need to accept responsibility for the fact that a prominent Black, female leader with immense talent left Google unhappily," Pichai noted. However, he did not mention Gebru getting fired or resigning.
"Google's short-sighted decision to fire and retaliate against a core member of the Ethical AI team makes it clear that we need swift and structural changes if this work is to continue, and if the legitimacy of the field as a whole is to persevere," the letter reads. The letter also asks that management not to retaliate against the team for speaking out about Gebru's case. Alex Hanna, a senior research scientist on the team sent the letter to the management on behalf of Google's ethical AI employees.
On December 2, Gebru, in a series of tweets noted that she had been fired. However, Google the AI division chief Jeff Dean said in a statement that she had resigned. The researchers in the letter have asked that Kacholia and Jeff Dean, apologize to Gebru for the way they treated her.
Gebru had noted she had been in discussions with Google that involved resignation, as the company had rejected a research paper she had co-authored on potential bias in large language models. Gebru gave Google a set of conditions, without which she would work out a timeline for her to leave Google with minimal disruption to her team. As per reports, the company did not respond to her conditions and told her head and coworkers that she had already resigned and cut off her access to an internal email.
Previously, a public letter of support for Gebru was signed by nearly 2,700 Google employees and more than 4,300 academic researchers and other supporters. The letter accuses Google of subjecting Gebru to defensiveness, racism, gaslighting, research censorship, and a retaliatory firing.