Google fires its artificial intelligence researchers who doubt new technologies

AI is the future. No one doubts it. But is this future what we want? It’s a rhetorical question. But for academics, this is not the case. Recently, Google appeared in a new scandal, when it fired a researcher from its Brain unit. The reason was that the AI ​​researcher disagreed with the conclusion of an article written by fellow Googlers about the benefits of AI-assisted chip design. In order to understand what kind of ethical problem we face, let’s recall the original story.

Back in 2020, Google asked Dr. Satrajit Chatterjee to work on a new technology published in a previous article. The AI ​​researcher had to improve it and take it to chipmakers for sale or licensing.

However, Chatterjee said some of the claims are suspect. Interestingly, as academics discussed the complaints, Google removed the names of two co-authors who had similar concerns. The “new” article was published in Nature in 2021.

What about the screams of Google AI researchers?

After Nature published the paper, Google allowed Chatterjee and other opposing scholars to write a rebuttal paper. They submitted it to an internal arbitration committee. The company rejected it months later. Researchers opposed to AI didn’t give up and demanded to take the issue to Alphabet’s board. According to them, “the decision not to publish the rebuttal violated the company’s own principles”. It’s not hard to guess that soon after, Chatterjee was fired.

Google confirmed to The Times that Chatterjee was terminated for cause and supports the conclusions of his articles. Google Research VP Zoubin Ghahramani also mentioned that they investigated the allegations and concerns in a “subsequent submission” and found that they “did not meet our publishing standards”.

Chatterjee’s attorney called out Jeff Dean, senior vice president of Google Research, for his “actions to suppress the publication of all relevant experimental data, not just data that supports his favored hypothesis.” […]”

Well, briefly, the papers we are talking about describe how AI can design chips in less than 6 hours while humans need months for the same job. The results have yet to speak for themselves in wider practice. But before that, AI researchers can talk for hours about how to design chips and whether what AI delivers/does is better than what people do.

Further reading: Samsung’s next Exynos chips will be designed by artificial intelligence

At this time, Google has nothing to share.

James G. Williams