Apple Hires Ex-Google AI Scientist Samy Bengio

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Apple Inc. said it hired a former Google employee, Samy Bengio, however, they declined to specify his new role. Bengio is a respected research scientist who ended his 14-year career at Google due to the controversial decision made by the company to oust two women researchers who reported to him.

At Apple, Bengio will work under Scottish software engineer John Giannandrea, Bengio’s former colleague. Giannandrea is the senior vice president of machine learning and AI strategy at Apple. 

Most recently, Bengio managed hundreds of researchers in the storied Google Brain artificial intelligence group at the Alphabet Inc. unit. Bengio said in April that he would resign on April 28 to “pursue other exciting opportunities.” 

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His departure came after Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell; the Ethical AI team co-leads who reported to him were fired by Google. Both women considered him an ally. Google cut Bengio’s duties when it reorganized the research unit in February. This reshuffle saw the remaining Ethical AI group members under a vice president, Marian Croak, who oversees other employees focused on the responsible use of AI.

In February, the search giant fired staff scientist Margaret Mitchell after alleging she transferred electronic files out of the company. Fellow researcher Gebru was fired in December after she threatened to quit rather than retract a paper.

Though at least two Google engineers had earlier resigned to protest the dismissal of Gebru, Bengio is the highest-profile employee yet to depart.

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According to Wion News, “as one of the early leaders of the Google Brain research team, Bengio advanced the “deep learning” algorithms that underpin today’s AI systems for analyzing images, speech, and other data.”

“While I am looking forward to my next challenge, there’s no doubt that leaving this wonderful team is really difficult,” Bengio wrote in the email announcing his departure from Google, according to Bloomberg.

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