Working To Restore Your Trust: Google CEO Sundar Pichai Apologises For Firing AI Researcher Timnit Gebru

Sundar Pichai Timnit Gebru

Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive Officer of Google, on Wednesday apologised to his employees for the way the company handled the dismissal of a prominent artificial intelligence researcher, Timnit Gebru earlier this month. “I’ve heard the reaction to Dr Gebru’s departure loud and clear: it seeded doubts and led some in our community to question their place at Google,” Pichai wrote in the email addressing the termination of Gebru, a Black scientist.

“I want to say how sorry I am for that, and I accept the responsibility of working to restore your trust,” Pichai added, according to Axios. This apology came after many scientists expressed support to Gebru who claimed that Google fired her for sending an internal email accusing the company of “silencing marginalised voices,” BBC reported. As per reports, her email came after a research paper she had co-authored was rejected by the company.

“Thanks for making your conditions clear. We cannot agree to #1 and #2 as you are requesting. We respect your decision to leave Google as a result, and we are accepting your resignation,” the email from Google managers said while firing her, according to Gebru.

“However, we believe the end of your employment should happen faster than your email reflects because certain aspects of the email you sent last night to non-management employees in the brain group reflect behavior that is inconsistent with the expectations of a Google manager,” the letter further added.

Since her departure, more than 2,278 Google employees have signed a letter in support of Gebru, who has been working as a co-leader of Google’s Ethical AI team. Timnit tweeted that Pichai’s e-mail did not convince her and that it wasn’t a true apology. “I see this as ‘I’m sorry for how it played out but I’m not sorry for what we did to her yet’.”

Pichai said that Google needs to “assess the circumstances that led up to Dr Gebru’s departure, examining where we could have improved and led a more respectful process,” and “accept responsibility for the fact that a prominent Black, female leader with immense talent left Google unhappily.”

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Disappointed at how Google is handling of the situation, Gebru tweeted on Wednesday saying, “Take responsibility for your toxic leaders, HR, Legal and other entities who harass and discriminate against people like me and protect toxicity.”

Feature Image Credit: Business Insider

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