Google quietly reorganizes AI leadership after the departure of chief AI ethicist


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Sina science and technology news on the afternoon of January 28, it is reported that Google has quietly reorganized the leadership of its artificial intelligence department, changed the work reporting route of the Department, and set up a buffer zone between a senior executive involved in the Department and his subordinates. In December last year, timnit gebru, Google’s famous AI ethicist, was involved in the forced resignation.
Google this week placed zoubin ghahramani, director of research at Google brain, in a new leadership position lower than Megan kacholia, vice president of engineering, according to two current employees. Kajolia was one of the executives involved in the dismissal of gebulu at that time.
According to people familiar with the matter, all the reports that should have been sent to kajolia are now sent to gahramani, effectively creating a buffer between her and the team she oversees. This change of reporting route has been confirmed by a Google spokesman. But a Google spokesman also said the change was planned before Mr. gebulu left. Currently, gahramani’s title is still senior research director.
SAMY bengio, gebru’s former boss, oversees the AI ethics team and is now one of the managers who reports to ghahramani. At that time, after hearing the news of gerblu’s dismissal, he issued a public statement on Facebook, saying he was “shocked” by the dismissal, which showed that Google had not consulted him in advance. He said he was on gebru’s side. “I support you, timnit,” he wrote in a statement.
In December, she said she was fired by Google for a controversial research paper and criticism of the company’s diversification policy.
At that time, gebulu co authored a research paper with other Google employees and external researchers. The management tried to get her to withdraw the paper, but it was rejected. Gebulu told kajolia and other management at the time that if she wanted to stay at Google, she had to agree to some conditions.
Kajolia later e-mailed gebulu that she had accepted her resignation request, adding that she would speed up the processing of her resignation as she criticized Google’s diversification policy in an employee resource group.
Some Google employees engaged in artificial intelligence ethics research are angry at the experience of gebulu. In mid December, shortly after gebulu’s departure, members of the AI ethics team submitted a list of appeals to Google management, one of which was to remove kajolia from their reporting line chain.
According to the draft list of demands seen by the media, it says: “we have lost confidence in Megan kajolia. We ask that she be removed from our reporting line chain. Sammy bengio, gebru’s boss, should report directly to Jeff Dean.”
Placing ghahramani between kajolia and her team can be seen as a way to meet the needs of employees, but it will not completely remove her from the reporting chain. A Google spokesman retorted that the team’s leadership change had nothing to do with gebru, and said the move was aimed at promoting ghahramani to a higher leadership position.
Gahramani, a former chief scientist at Uber, joined Google’s brain leadership team in September.
Google chief executive Peter Chay announced that he would investigate the departure of gebulu. But last week, another incident made the situation more complicated: Megan Mitchell, a co director of the AI ethics team and former colleague of gebru, was blocked from the company account for downloading company files and sharing them with external accounts.
Sources said the documents were related to the dismissal of gebulu. According to media reports, Mitchell used an automatic script to scan for evidence of the company’s alleged discrimination against gebru.