Top Google Executive Who Outspokenly Opposed Firings Of Colleagues Resigns

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Andrew Jose Contributor
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The senior Google manager who supervised its AI ethics group told colleagues Tuesday in an internal email that he is quitting Google, according to reports. 

“While I am looking forward to my next challenge, there’s no doubt that leaving this wonderful team is really difficult,” the executive, Samy Bengio, a machine learning expert, wrote in an email obtained by Bloomberg and Reuters.

Google confirmed the email’s authenticity and Bengio’s departure to Reuters. (RELATED: Google, Facebook Tried To Donate Six Figures To Heritage Foundation. The Think Tank Said No)

Bengio first started working for the tech giant in 2007 and has spent 14 years of his life with the company, according to Bloomberg. He was one of the tech giant’s first workers to be part of Google Brain, an artificial intelligence research team, Reuters reported.

Bengio also oversaw the company’s Ethical AI group until Google restructured it in February following the departures of Ethical AI co-leads Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, according to Bloomberg. 

Both Mitchell and Gebru were reporting to Bengio and saw him as an “ally” as he spoke out against the terminations, according to the outlet.

Google dismissed Gebru in Dec. 2020 after a dispute over a research paper and messages sent by Gebru criticizing the tech giant’s treatment of racial minorities. (RELATED: Google CEO Apologizes For Departure Of Black Scientist Over Note Sent To Co-Workers)

Following Gebru’s departure, Bengio expressed displeasure with her dismissal on Facebook. He wrote on his profile that Google’s decision “stunned him” and that he has “always been and will remain a strong supporter of [Gebru’s] scientific work to make sure that AI becomes a positive force for the minoritized.”

Google fired Mitchell in Feb. 2021 for allegedly moving files outside the company, according to Reuters. Mitchell claimed she was trying “to raise concerns about race and gender inequity, and speak up about Google’s problematic firing of Dr. Gebru,” the outlet reported.

Bengio is the highest-profile Google employee to quit working for the company following the two incidents, Reuters reported. Apr. 28 will be his last day at Google.