Googlers Alex Hanna and Dylan Baker leave to join Timnit Gebru

  • Two senior Google researchers have quit to join a nonprofit run by a former colleague.
  • Alex Hanna and Dylan Baker will join Timnit Gebru, who left Google at the end of 2020.
  • Do you work for Google? Contact journalist Martin Coulter on [email protected] or +447801985586.

Two other members of Google’s ethical AI team are leaving the company to join a nonprofit run by a former colleague.

On Wednesday, principal investigator Alex Hanna and software engineer Dylan Baker revealed they had left the tech giant to take on new roles at the Distributed Artificial Intelligence Research (DAIR) Institute, founded by the ethical AI researcher Timnit Gebru in 2021.

Gebru had been co-technical lead of Google’s ethical artificial intelligence team, but left in December 2020 amid an internal dispute over a research paper she co-authored on the potential of AI to reproduce human biases. Gebru says she was fired via a separate email, Google maintains that she has resigned. His departure sparked an internal storm and one reshuffle within Google’s Ethical AI team. Google then fired the other team c0-leadMargaret Mitchell, triggering a series of resignations.

A year after being ousted, Gebru announced she was starting DAIR, a non-profit organization dedicated to examining the use of AI technology by Big Tech companies. Hanna will take on the role of research director, while Baker joins as an engineer and researcher.

In 1,400 words blog postHanna criticized the tech giant’s treatment of Gebru and fellow team leader Margaret Mitchell – who was also fired by the company – saying she looked up to her two former bosses “despite Google’s culture “.

“Google’s toxic issues are no mystery to anyone who’s been there more than a few months or who follows tech news with a critical eye,” she wrote.

Highlight past accounts of alleged racism and sexism in the workplacehis alleged history of anti-union activityand the use of its technology by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)Hanna said Google was one of many “terrible places to work for people of color.”

In a separate blog post also published on Wednesday, titled “Leaving Google”Baker said he “stands among the people who have put their careers on the line to speak out.”

“Google management has made it clear that there is simply no reason to let employees influence the direction of the company if that direction deviates from voracious, short-sighted consumption and growth at any price,” he wrote.

Others who resigned following Gebru’s dismissal publicly criticized his actions. Gebru’s shots played a direct role in forming the Alphabet Workers UnionSilicon Valley’s first white-collar tech union.

“We appreciate the contributions of Alex and Dylan – our research on Responsible AI is extremely important, and we continue to expand our work in this area consistent with our AI Principles,” a Google spokesperson said.

“We are also committed to building a business where people of different views, backgrounds and experiences can do their best and show up for each other.”

Do you work at Google? Do you have any advice? Contact journalist Martin Coulter via email at [email protected], or via the encrypted messaging app Signal at +447801985586.

James G. Williams