Microsoft’s commitment to AI ethics has been called into question after the software giant laid off a team dedicated to guiding AI innovation in a manner that respects privacy, transparency, and security. The company’s decision to ditch its AI ethics team is especially questionable given its rapid expansion of ChatGPT-powered AI in its software products.
TechCrunch reports that Microsoft’s commitment to ethical and responsible AI practices has come under scrutiny after reports emerged that the company has disbanded its team dedicated to guiding ethical AI innovation. According to Platformer, the elimination of the ethics and society team is a result of a recent round of layoffs that affected 10,000 workers throughout the company.
Microsoft’s Office of Responsible AI (ORA), which sets rules for responsible AI development through governance and public policy work, still remains. However, the ethics and society team that was responsible for ensuring Microsoft’s responsible AI principles were reflected in the design of products has been laid off. The group had recently been focusing on identifying dangers brought on by Microsoft’s adoption of OpenAI technology across a range of its products.
The majority of the employees involved in AI ethics were assigned to other teams within the company during the reorganization last year. John Montgomery, corporate vice president of AI, informed the remaining candidates that they would be laid off on March 6. Team members told Platformer that they thought they were let go as Microsoft seemed less concerned with long-term, socially responsible thinking and aimed to ship its AI products ahead of the competition.
The elimination of the ethics and society team comes as Microsoft begins to invest billions of dollars into its partnership with OpenAI.