Two members of Google’s Ethical AI group have announced their departures from the company, according to a report from Bloomberg. Senior researcher Alex Hanna, and software engineer Dylan Baker, will join Timnit Gebru’s nonprofit research institute, Distributed AI Research (DAIR).
“Prior to Timnit’s hiring, Google Research management had never recruited a Black woman as a research scientist,” Hanna states. “In one town hall around Googlegeist (Google’s annual workplace climate survey), a high-level executive remarked that there had been such low numbers of Black women in the Google Research organization that they couldn’t even present a point estimate of these employees’ dissatisfaction with the organization, lest management risk deanonymizing the results.”
While the company’s diversity report from last year showed an overall increase in the number of Black employees it hired, there was still an increase in the number of women of color that left the company — at the time of the report’s release, Black women made up 1.8 percent of Google’s workforce. And in December, California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) launched an investigation over Google’s treatment of Black female workers.
“We appreciate Alex and Dylan’s contributions — our research on responsible AI is incredibly important, and we’re continuing to expand our work in this area in keeping with our AI Principles,” Google spokesperson Brian Gabriel said in a statement emailed to Srdtf News. “We’re also committed to building a company where people of different views, backgrounds and experiences can do their best work and show up for one another.”