Google has hired a prominent Black executive Marian Croak to lead its new centre of expertise on responsible AI within Google Research.

The appointment comes in the wake of the controversial firing of another Black executive Timnit Gebru who was the technical co-lead of Google’s Ethical Artificial Intelligence team.

Gebru said in December that she was fired over an email where she expressed her doubts about Google’s commitment inclusion and diversity.

“Croak has spent decades working on groundbreaking technology, with over 200 patents in areas such as Voice over IP, which laid the foundation for the calls we all use to get things done and stay in touch during the pandemic,” Google said in a blog post on Thursday.

For the past six years, she’s been a VP at Google, working on everything from site reliability engineering to bringing public Wi-Fi to India’s railroads.

“Now, she’s taking on a new project: making sure Google develops artificial intelligence responsibly and that it has a positive impact,” the company said.

“The field of responsible AI and ethics is new. Most institutions have only developed principles, and they’re very high-level, abstract principles, in the last five years. There’s a lot of dissension, a lot of conflict in terms of trying to standardise on normative definitions of these principles,” said Croak.

She said that she is excited to be able to galvanise the brilliant talent that “we have at Google working on this”.

“We have to make sure we have the frameworks and the software and the best practices designed by the researchers and the applied engineers so we can proudly say that our systems are behaving in responsible ways,” she explained.



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