Apple has hired Google AI veteran Samy Bengio who was among the company's most prominent employees to quit amid the fallout from its firing of two women researchers. Reuters, which broke the news, noted that Bengio will lead a new AI research unit at Apple, reuniting him with former Google luminary — and current Apple VP of machine learning and AI strategy — John Giannandrea.
Bengio left Google last week after 14 years following the company's controversial dismissal of two ethical AI co-leads who reported to him, Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell. Both researchers were staunch advocates for diversity in their field and had separately warned of the dangers of large language models and algorithmic bias. Their firings prompted an internal outcry at the search giant and among the wider AI academic fraternity.
In a statement posted on Facebook in the wake of Gebru's ouster, Bengio said he was stunned and that he stood by Timnit and the rest of his team. Google responded by reorganzing its ethical AI research unit to place Dr. Marian Croak as its lead in February — a move that diminished Bengio's duties, according to Bloomberg.
For Apple, the hiring marks the latest in a string of Google AI talent grabs as it looks to bolster its machine learning smarts through recruitment and tech acquisitions. Bengio was a high-ranking member of the Google Brain research team, which has produced AI breakthroughs in brain mapping, image upscaling and accessibility.