Sundar Pichai says Google will review AI scholar's abrupt exit

Pichai told Google employees that the tech company is beginning a review of the circumstances leading up to Black computer scientist Timnit Gebru's exit and how Google could have led a more respectful process.
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Google CEO Sundar Pichai has apologised for how a prominent artificial intelligence researcher's abrupt departure last week has seeded doubts in the company.

Pichai told Google employees in a Wednesday memo obtained by Axios that the tech company is beginning a review of the circumstances leading up to Black computer scientist Timnit Gebru's exit and how Google could have led a more respectful process.

Gebru, a top scholar in the field of AI ethics, said she was fired last week. Google has referred to it as a resignation.

Pichai's note doesn't call it either a firing or a resignation but says "we need to accept responsibility for the fact that a prominent Black, female leader with immense talent left Google unhappily."

The dispute centred around Google's push to disassociate itself from a research paper Gebru co-authored examining the societal dangers of an AI technology used by Google.

Gebru criticised Pichai's memo on Twitter, saying she saw no plans for accountability in it and because it offered no apology for what happened to her.

Thousands of people, many of them Google employees, have signed an open letter showing support for Gebru and accusing Google of unprecedented research censorship, racism, and defensiveness.

Image Source: Shutterstock

In another development, The Delhi High Court on Wednesday asked the Centre, RBI, SEBI, IRDAI and National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) to respond to a PIL seeking a detailed legal framework for regulating operations of techfin companies such as Facebook, Google and Amazon in India's financial sector space.

According to the petition filed by an economist, techfin entities are technology, telecommunications or e-commerce companies which have entered the financial sector to provide services and need to be regulated.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan issued notice to the ministries of finance and law as also Reserve Bank of India (RBI), NPCI, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI), Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (PFRDA) seeking their stand on the plea by Resmi P Bhaskaran.

(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)

Edited by Megha Reddy

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