Google CEO Sundar Pichai apologized Wednesday for the departure of Timnit Gebru, one of its top scientists, in an alleged dispute over a research paper and notes sent by Gebru criticizing the company’s treatment of people of color, according to multiple reports.
While the CEO’s apology did not acknowledge that Dr. Gebru, an ethicist in artificial intelligence at the company, was fired, something Gebru and several others claimed, Pichai promised to review the incidents leading to Dr. Gebru’s exit. He also apologized for how Gebru’s departure might have “led some in our community to question their place at Google,” NPR reported. (RELATED: Google Spied On, Fired, Coerced Employees For Unionization Attempt, National Labor Relations Board Alleges)
I was fired by @JeffDean for my email to Brain women and Allies. My corp account has been cutoff. So I’ve been immediately fired 🙂— Timnit Gebru (@timnitGebru) December 3, 2020
Dr. Gebru had initially claimed that she was fired, according to CNN. However, she later clarified that she had not been explicitly fired but that her resignation was accepted immediately by the company after she sent out an internal email complaining about the company’s attitude towards diversity, where she also expressed “dismay” at the review process behind her paper, CNN reported.
Jeff Dean, Google AI head, said that Gebru had threatened to resign unless he told her who had objected to her paper, a demand he refused, according to Gizmodo.