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AI expert Fei Fei Li set to leave Google this year

Fei-Fei Li will be replaced at the end of the year as head of Google Cloud AI by Andrew Moore, Google announced on Monday.

Li, a well-known expert in artificial intelligence, will return to her position as head of Stanford University’s AI department by the end of the year.

In the blog post where the news was announced, Google said the move to replace Li with Moore was expected when she started working for Google. This would be supported by a statement on the Stanford Vision Lab website saying that she would be ‘on leave from Stanford until the second half of 2018.’

However, during her time at Google, Li was attached to a controversy seeing AI development being used for military purposes on the so-called Project Maven. Earlier this year, the company witnessed an employee protest over this, with Google eventually leaving Project Maven.

Li was allegedly aware of the connection between Project Maven and the military, with the Intercept printing excerpts from the leaked emails, including these comments attributed to Li:

This is red meat to the media to find all ways to damage Google. You probably heard Elon Musk and his comment about AI causing WW3. I don’t know what would happen if the media starts picking up a theme that Google is secretly building AI weapons or AI technologies to enable weapons for the Defense industry. Google Cloud has been building our theme on Democratizing AI in 2017, and Diane and I have been talking about Humanistic AI for enterprise. I’d be super careful to protect these very positive images.

Diane Greene, Google Cloud CEO, who wrote about Li’s return to Stanford, said she “has built a tremendous team and together they have innovated and done a remarkable job of accelerating the adoption of AI and ML by developers and Google Cloud customers.

“We are proud that Fei-Fei will be returning to Stanford to continue her leadership in the field of AI in the academic environment, and we’re thrilled that we will still be able to continue to work with her as an Advisor.”

At the time of writing, Google has not given any specific dates for the turnover yet.

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