Published in AI

Google AI boffin claims she was fired

by on04 December 2020

Google denies it

Timnit Gebru, one of the best-known AI researchers today and co-lead of an AI ethics team at Google, said she was fired for sending an email to "non-management employees that was inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager".

She said Google AI employees who report to her were emailed and told that she accepted her resignation when she did not offer it.

Apparently Gebru sent the email in question to the Google Brain Women and Allies listserv. In it, Gebru expressed frustration with the lack of progress in hiring women at Google and lack of accountability for failure to make progress. She said was told not to publish a piece of research and advised employees to no longer fill out diversity paperwork because it didn't matter. No mention is made of resignation.

"There is no way more documents or more conversations will achieve anything. We just had a Black research all hands with such an emotional show of exasperation. Do you know what happened since? Silencing in the most fundamental way possible", the email reads.

But there appears to be some confusion over why Timnit had resigned. Google sent a email Google AI chief Jeff Dean to company research staff. In it, Dean said a research paper written by Gebru and other researchers was submitted for publication at a conference before completing a review process and addressing feedback. In response, Dean said he received an email from Gebru.

"Timnit wrote that if we didn't meet these demands, she would leave Google and work on an end date. We accept and respect her decision to resign from Google", he said.

"Given Timnit's role as a respected researcher and a manager in our Ethical AI team, I feel badly that Timnit has gotten to a place where she feels this.”


Last modified on 04 December 2020
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