- Microsoft has reportedly laid off the entire ethics and society team within the AI department in its recent layoff round affecting 10,000 workers.
- Current and former employees have voiced concern that the move means Microsoft lacks a team dedicated to ensuring AI principles are integrated with product design, as the company increases AI availability.
- Microsoft maintains an active Office of Responsible AI and insists that its investment in responsibility is rising.
- The dismissed team is understood to have played a significant role in ensuring that Microsoft’s principles were reflected in product design, working on a role-playing game called Judgment Call and identifying risks.
Part of the 10,000 employees that Microsoft announced were been laid off includes the AI ethical team, according to a report by Platformer.
What this means is that the giant computer company no longer has a team ensuring that AI products are responsible, at least that is what some employees revealed.
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At a time when AI tools are growing at increasing speeds, it is actually a cause for concern that Microsoft is sacrificing the ethical team to push more products out. Although, it may be that the company is looking into other ways to enforce ethics in its design.
“Microsoft is committed to developing AI products and experiences safely and responsibly, and does so by investing in people, processes, and partnerships that prioritize this.
“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 & Society did to help us on our ongoing responsible AI journey,” it said in a statement.
However, its statement does not match what some sources within the company are saying about the importance of a dedicated AI ethics team.
One former employee claimed that their job had included showing engineers how principles of ethics apply to their products and how to create rules in areas that lacked one. The team was also working on a responsible innovation kit, which includes the role-playing game called Judgment Call that lets designers foresee potential harms from their products and fix them.
Sources say that Microsoft priority is to quickly move OpenAI models into the hands of customers, likely, at the expense of how it could impact society negatively.
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