Rififi at Google around work to accelerate the design of electronic chips

Google said it fired an engineering manager who tried to discredit research by colleagues. The integrity of the American giant is now questioned in the scientific community…

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the battle has raged around the world regarding the production of electronic chips. But this battle is not only straining supply chains. Obviously, Google is facing an internal battle within its team of artificial intelligence researchers responsible for developing new models to accelerate the design of electronic chips.

Indeed, the American giant revealed that it had dismissed an engineering manager, who had tried to discredit the research on artificial intelligence carried out by colleagues. The latter had even accused this manager of harassment. And if the offending person was finally fired, this incident testifies to a deep malaise within the division of Google which carries out research on artificial intelligence and microchips.

A revolutionary discovery by Google called into question

Indeed, the research unit of the Mountain View firm has been in the crosshairs of the American authorities since the end of 2020, employees having openly criticized its practices for handling staff complaints and scientific publications. Thus, Google researchers, Azalia Mirhoseini and Anna Goldie, published an article in June 2021 in the journal Naturein which they explained that they had discovered a model of artificial intelligence capable of designing electronic chips in just six hours, when humans would take several months to accomplish this task.

But what was presented as a major success for research in artificial intelligence was called into question a few months later by an article published anonymously online. In the latter, Google researchers claimed to have discovered two alternative approaches based on basic software that surpassed artificial intelligence.

Group credibility at stake

After the leaked test results, Google said it refused to publish the article because it did not meet company standards. Shortly after, Satrajit Chatterjee, one of the main scientists behind this work, was dismissed, without the American giant specifying the reasons for this dismissal.

However, Anna Goldie, one of the two researchers who signed the scientific article in the journal Natureassured the New York Times that Satrajit Chatterjee had harassed her, as had her colleague Azalia Mirhoseini. Charges refuted by the defense of the dismissed employee.

From this internal battle, it is above all Google that is weakened. The unrest of recent months has cast a pall over the credibility of the group’s researchers within the scientific community. In this context, it is difficult to say if Google has unearthed an innovation that could revolutionize the design of electronic chips, or if these are deliberately exaggerated results to capture government subsidies. For now, the doubt persists…

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