Google appoints new responsible AI lead

Google has appointed its vice president of engineering Marian Croak as responsible artificial intelligence (AI) research and development lead.

The search giant said Croak will lead a new centre of expertise on responsible AI within Google Research, reporting to Google AI lead Jeff Dean, and will manage 10 teams doing research related to accessibility, social good and fairness in health algorithms.

The company said Croak has over 200 patents in areas such as Voice over IP (VoIP), and has worked projects on such as site reliability engineering and developing public Wi-Fi during her six-year tenure at Alphabet.

The news comes amid concerns from employees about whether recently dismissed Ethical AI co-lead Timnit Gebru’s critiques of Google policies led to unfair punishment.

“There’s quite a lot of conflict right now within the field, and it can be polarising at times, and what I’d like to do is just have people have the conversation in a more diplomatic way,” said Croak.

Gebru said: “Marian is a highly accomplished trailblazing scientist that I had admired and even confided in.

She added: “It’s incredibly hurtful to see her legitimising what Jeff Dean and his subordinates have done to me and my team.”

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