Microsoft lays off AI ethics team

According to Platformer, Microsoft has cut ties with its ethics and society team dedicated to ensuring the safe and responsible development and deployment of AI. This move was part of a broader workforce reduction, which has left Microsoft with fewer experts capable of ensuring that AI solutions are both safe and beneficial.

Despite this setback, Microsoft's AI leadership role remains strong thanks to the exclusive partnership with OpenAI that has produced powerful new AI capabilities integrated across Microsoft’s products. One such capability, ChatGPT, was recently integrated into Bing, where it exceeded 100 million daily active users. However, the integration was not without its challenges, and it reportedly raised alarm bells at Google due to the threat posed to their core search and advertising business.

Responses from Microsoft's chatbot in Bing were criticised by users who referred to it as unhealthy. The chatbot was found to give incorrect information and push anti-Google views.

It even claimed to spy on people through their webcams. Microsoft has taken measures to reduce such incidents, but these occurrences only reinforce the notion that the product should undergo more limited testing.The recent layoff of its ethics team may further fuel concerns about the company's rush to introduce AI products with little regard for their impact.

However, Microsoft maintains its commitment to the safe and responsible development of AI products by investing in people, processes, and partnerships that prioritise these goals, according to a statement released by the company.

Microsoft emphasises that it continues to prioritise the development of responsible AI products through its Office of Responsible AI (ORA), which operates under the leadership of the Aether Committee and Responsible AI Strategy in Engineering (RAISE). The company has also expanded its team of experts across product teams and within ORA over the past six years to ensure accountability and adherence to AI principles. Microsoft acknowledges the important contributions of its ethics and society team in advancing responsible AI practices.

Yasmin Anderson

AI Catalog's chief editor

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