Microsoft lays off AI ethics team 

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Microsoft has laid off a team dedicated to ensuring the responsible development and deployment of AI.

Platformer reports the ethics and society team were laid off as part of wider cuts to Microsoft’s workforce. However, the decision leaves Microsoft with fewer experts working to ensure solutions are safe and have a net positive impact.

The perception of Microsoft as an AI leader has deepened following its exclusive partnership with OpenAI. The duo continue to deliver powerful new AI capabilities across Microsoft’s products.

Microsoft and OpenAI recently grabbed headlines after integrating a new version of ChatGPT into Bing—something which reportedly set off alarm bells at Google due to the threat it poses to its core search and advertising business.

The ChatGPT enhancements to Bing have led to the search engine exceeding 100 million daily active users. However, it’s not been without its fair share of issues.

Users have called Microsoft’s chatbot in Bing “unhinged” for its early responses and caught it giving incorrect information, pushing strong anti-Google views, and even claiming to spy on people through their webcams. 

Microsoft has since taken steps to reduce such occurrences but it adds to many people’s views that the product should still be in far more limited testing. An entire ethics team being laid off at Microsoft will only add to concerns that AI products are being rushed to market with little regard for their impact.

“Microsoft is committed to developing AI products and experiences safely and responsibly, and does so by investing in people, processes, and partnerships that prioritise this,” the company wrote in a statement.

It’s worth noting that Microsoft still has an Office of Responsible AI which promotes ethical practices through a central effort led by the Aether Committee, the Office of Responsible AI (ORA), and Responsible AI Strategy in Engineering (RAISE).

“Over the past six years we have increased the number of people across our product teams and within the Office of Responsible AI who, along with all of us at Microsoft, are accountable for ensuring we put our AI principles into practice.

“We appreciate the trailblazing work the ethics and society team did to help us on our ongoing responsible AI journey.”

(Photo by Surface on Unsplash)

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