Ex-Google AI Researchers Reportedly Left the Company to Join Timnit Gebru Nonprofit

After the controversial exit of former Google Ethical AI researcher Timnit Gebru two years ago, the search engine giant reportedly lost two employees who worked at the group.

On Wednesday, February 2, Dylan Baker and Alex Hanna decided to cut ties with the tech titan for one specific reason: to reunite with Gebru at her AI startup she founded in 2021.

Google and Timnit Gebru

(Photo: Kai Wenzel of Unsplash)
Ex-Google AI Researchers Reportedly Left the Company to Join Timnit Gebru Nonprofit

According to a first report by Bloomberg, Baker and Hanna have announced that they will be ending their tenure with the tech giant.

Additionally, the two employees also added that they will follow Gebru and her distributed AI research institute that she built last year after leaving her post in 2020.

Speaking of Gebru, controversy erupted when she allegedly left the Ethical AI research team. However, that was not the actual case according to the former employee.

Gebru published an article about the company’s plans to remove it. In fact, she said that Google effectively kicked her out of the company. This contrasted with the company’s claims that it had fired the official.

In February last year, many workers also left the company following a report on Google’s practice in managing its employees. The incident led to the firing of Margaret Mitchell, who is another co-head of research group Ethical AI.

Related Article: Google AI Researchers Want Timnit Gebru to Return to a Higher Position Among Other Demands

Why Baker and Hanna are gone for good

In a report of Engadget on Wednesday, February 3, Hanna quit Google because she was already tired. In a blog on Medium, she described the company as not just a tech organization and insisted it was a white tech organization.

“Specifically, technology organizations commit to defending whiteness through ‘interrelated practices, processes, actions, and meanings,’ the techniques of organizational reproduction. In this case, that means defending their policies of recruitment, tiering and monetization,” Hanna noted.

Additionally, the post also touched on Gebru’s departure, which ties into a common claim about Google AI chief executive Jeff Dean.

Baker and Hanna shared that Google has apparently become “less willing” to listen to employee demand over the past few years. They highlighted the company’s activities for the Pentagon contract which discussed public objections to personnel.

In an interview with Engadget, a Google spokesperson said the company appreciates what Dylan and Alex have done on their behalf. The tech titan’s representative went on to say that it will continue to explore its reach within the framework of AI principles.

Elsewhere, Tech Times reported in May 2021 that another computer scientist who worked at Google in the past finally landed a job at Apple. Former AI expert Samy Bengio has reportedly been tasked with leading John Giannandrea’s AI research team.

In the background, Giannadrea, who currently works as VP of Machine Learning and AI Strategy, has also had ties to Google in the past. His tenure as head of AI and research at the company lasted about eight years.

Also read: Another Google AI employee leaves after two high-profile evictions of researchers from his team

This article belongs to Tech Times

Written by Joseph Henry

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James G. Williams