After Alex Hanna, Google’s battle with AI researchers continues

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Google and its toxic work culture have been in the news for quite some time now. In fact, not just Google; the tech giants have time and again faced allegations related to sexism, racism, and other biases. Although they have managed to keep it ‘hush!’, this cannot continue for a very long time.

Recently, Alex Hanna left Google’s AI Research team because of the “whiteness” problem she faced during her time at Google. Not just Hanna, Timnit Gebru from Google’s Ethical AI team was fired because of an email that she sent, highlighting the importance to increase minority hiring in the company. These are just two names among several who chose to speak out against the powerful tech giant. The resignation or firing of employees like Alex Hanna and Timnit Gebru is slowly creating turmoil in the tech workforce.

But Google doesn’t seem to care much. The series of employee departures at Google continues with the firing of AI researcher Satrajit Chatterjee in March 2022. This happened after Satrajit Chatterjee along with others challenged a previously published paper that said computers have the ability to design chip components better or faster than humans.

Satrajit Chatterjee along with other researchers challenged some of the findings and questioned whether the technology was fully tested. Google rejected the paper he wrote and decided to defend its research paper. On rejecting it, the company said that the paper produced “did not meet our standards”. Researchers planned on getting the issue to CEO Sundar Pichai and the Board of Google.

“We thoroughly vetted the original Nature paper and stand by the peer-reviewed results”

-Zoubin Ghahramani

Zoubin Ghahramani, a vice president at Google Research said in a statement, “We thoroughly vetted the original Nature paper and stand by the peer-reviewed results.” The company did not elaborate much on why was Satrajit Chatterjee terminated. It was only mentioned that he was “terminated with cause.”

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A Times reporter, Daisuke Wakabayashi’s tweet was pointed out by Google which said that the terminated employee had harassed and “impugned the work” of one of the original authors. To this, Satrajit Chaterjee’s lawyer said that he was maintaining scientific integrity.

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