Two Google Engineers Resign over AI Researcher Gebru’s Firing 

An engineering director and a software developer have quit the company over issues of diversity and ethics.

Published
World
2 min read
The two employees resigned amid demands by the staff for a management change in Google’s research organisation and commitments to academic freedom. Image used for representation. 
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An engineering director and a software developer have quit Alphabet Inc's Google over issues of diversity and ethics, after the removal of Artificial Intelligence researcher Timnit Gebru in December last year, reported Reuters.

David Baker, a director focused on user safety, who left Google last month after serving there for 16 years, said in a letter seen by Reuters that Gebru's exit extinguished his desire to continue as a ‘Googler’.

"We cannot say we believe in diversity, and then ignore the conspicuous absence of many voices from within our walls," he was quoted by Reuters.

Vinesh Kannan who was a software engineer, left the company on Tuesday. He tweeted that he had left Google, as they mistreated Gebru and April Christina Curley who were both Black. Curly, who was a recruiter with Google, had said that she was wrongly fired last year.

Though Google has refuted Curley's accusation and declined to comment, it pointed to few previous statements, in which is stated that it is making efforts to restore employees' trust after Gebru's departure, according to Reuters.

The two employees resigned amid demands by the staff for a management change in Google’s research organisation and commitments to academic freedom.

A union that was for formed last month to advance workplace protection was joined by more than 800 employees. Out of 1,35,000 employees, more than 2,600 employees signed a letter in support of Gebru.

Though Kannan did not give out an immediate comment, Baker, whose resignation letter was shared with an internal group for Black employees, told Reuters that he stood by his word in support of the ongoing conflicts.

Timnit Gebru, who co-led a team on AI ethics told Reuters that she pushed back on orders to pull research that speech technology like Google's could disadvantage marginalised groups.

Reuters had reported in December that Google had told some staff not to cast its technology in a negative light.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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