Google said on Thursday that it is restructuring its teams, which are focusing on developing artificial intelligence, a stir after months of turmoil after a prominent AI researcher at the company departed.
The new team, called the Responsible AI Research and Engineering Center of Expert, will be led by Marian Crack, vice president of engineering at the tech giant. Bloomberg previously reported this.
The exit of Timneet Gabru, who co-led Google’s ethical AI group, has sparked outrage from Google and she is one of the few black women in the area. In December, Gabru said he was fired over a research paper that called for a risk of bias in AI – including the systems used by Google’s search engine. Gebru emailed a group of Google employees, who criticized the company’s diversity and equity programs.
Gabru’s move has caused widespread resentment among Google’s rank-and-file workforce and the broader tech industry. Around 2,700 Goglers have signed an open letter in support of Gabaru, and members of Gabaru’s former team at Google have sent a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai demanding that he be reinstated.
Crack announced the news in a video and blog post saying, “There is a lot of conflict going on within the ground right now and it can be polarizing at times.” “And what I want to do, is that people’s interactions can happen in a more diplomatic way, maybe, now we’re doing, so we can really move the field forward.”
The news was surprising for some members of Google’s AI teams. Alex Hanna, a member of Google’s Athens AI, said, “Despite this promise we were not communicated at all,” Wrote on twitter.
A Google spokesman declined to comment beyond the announcement of the company’s blog post.