Microsoft Cuts AI Ethics Team As It Invests Billions More Into AI Technology, Report Says

By Bill Pan via The Epoch Times

The last remaining members of an ethics and society team within Microsoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) department didn’t survive a recent round of mass layoffs, according to a report.

The change comes as Microsoft signs a “multi-year, multi-billion-dollar investment” deal with OpenAI, the startup behind AI-powered image and text generators like DALL-E and ChatGPT, and upgrades its Bing search engine and Edge internet browser to incorporate a “new, next-generation OpenAI large language model that is more powerful than ChatGPT.”

The team, as reported by tech news site Platformer, was tasked to make sure Microsoft’s ethical standards regarding AI were actually reflected in product designs. The team was also reportedly working to identify potential risks posed by integrating OpenAI’s technology into a range of Microsoft products.

The team was at its peak size of 30 members in 2020, according to the report. Following a reorganization in October 2022, however, only about seven people remained. Microsoft’s corporate vice president of AI, John Montgomery, told Platformer that there was great pressure from chief technology officer Kevin Scott and chief executive Satya Nadella, who wanted to get “the most recent OpenAI models” into customers’ hands as quickly as possible.

Microsoft still maintains its Office of Responsible AI, which focuses on creating company-wide rules and principles to guide AI development. But employees told Platformer that the ethics and society team was playing a key role in bridging the gap between principles and products.

Microsoft didn’t respond to a request for comment, but it told Platformer that with the ethics team gone, the overall amount of work dedicated to responsibly has increased.

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