May 5, 2021
Where he is expected to lead a new AI research unit
Samy Bengio, Canadian computer scientist and Google Brain co-founder, has joined Apple as the company’s research director.
Bengio, who previously led Google’s AI ethics group, left the company after 14 years of service following the controversial firing of two members of its AI ethics team.
He is expected to lead a new AI research unit at Apple under John Giannandrea, senior vice president of machine learning and AI strategy, according to Reuters.
Apple has declined to comment on Bengio's role, but an update to his LinkedIn page says he is now working for the iPhone maker.
The grass is greener?
Bengio is responsible for more than 250 scientific papers on machine learning and related subjects. He was among the original authors of the Torch framework, which eventually became PyTorch, one of today's most popular machine learning tools.
Intriguingly, his older brother Youshua Bengio is also a world-famous machine learning researcher, often credited as one of the three ‘godfathers’ of deep learning.
Bengio left Google after former colleagues Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell were dismissed from the ethics team.
Gebru was fired last December while working on a paper about the dangers of large language models, while Mitchell was terminated in February this year, reportedly after using a script to search her emails for evidence of discrimination against Gebru.
The firing of Gebru led two other Google engineers, David Baker and Vinesh Kannan, to resign in protest.
In a Facebook post last December, Bengio said he was “stunned” by the removal of Gebru, adding that he “always has been and will remain a strong supporter of her scientific work to make sure AI becomes a positive force for the minoritized.”
Bengio’s resignation email to colleagues did not go into the reasons, but instead referenced the hardships of organizing a research team to promote positive uses of technology and a commitment to diversity and inclusion.
In the same week that Bengio resigned, John Krafcik, the CEO of Alphabet’s self-driving car division Waymo, stepped down to be replaced by two co-CEOs, Dmitri Dolgov and Tekedra Mawakana.
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