Given the departure of artificial intelligence researcher Dr. Timnit Gebru, from Google Last week, Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a memo received from Axios to employees saying the company would "investigate the circumstances that led to Dr. Gebru & # 39; s departure and where we should be improve and lead a more respectful process ".
Last week, Gebru said she was fired from the company after sending an email to their direct reports talking about how disappointed she was with her organization's approach to DEI, as well as the approval process for her research paper. Gebru sent this email after Google refused to give her permission to attach the names of her and her colleagues to an AI ethics paper on language models. Gebru had previously emailed her manager, detailing that she would prepare to leave if they did not meet her specific requirements. Google announced that it had accepted her resignation and blocked her access to her work email.
In Pichai's memo, he said the company "must take responsibility for a prominent black female executive with immense talent who left Google unhappy". He also noted that it had a "ripple effect" from underrepresented communities on Google.
Google declined to comment but confirmed that the memo was authentic. You can read the full memo on Axios.
Pichai's memo comes a few days after more than 2,000 Googlers and thousands of other supporters signed a letter with Gebru.
"Instead of being recognized by Google as an exceptionally talented and productive employee, Dr. Gebru has faced defenses, racism, gas lights, research censorship and now retaliation," they wrote. "In an email to Dr. Gebru's team on the evening of December 2, 2020, Google executives claimed they had decided to step down. This is wrong. In their direct correspondence with Dr. Gebru, these executives told her that her resignation was immediate and referred to an email she sent to a Google Brain Diversity and Inclusion mailing list as an excuse. "
They challenged those involved in the decision on Dr. Gebru & # 39; s paper was involved in meeting with the Ethical AI team to explain what happened. They also called for more transparency in decision-making and a commitment from Google Research to research integrity and academic freedom.