Microsoft fires ethical AI team as it doubles down on OpenAI

Microsoft has fired an entire team dedicated to guiding AI innovation that leads to ethical, responsible, and sustainable outcomes. The elimination of the ethics and society team, reported by Platformis part of a recent wave of layoffs that has affected 10,000 employees throughout the company.

The team’s elimination comes as Microsoft invests additional billions of dollars in its partnership with OpenAI, the startup behind art and text-generating AI systems like ChatGPT and DALL-E 2, and revamp his Bing the Edge search engine and web browser will be powered by a new next-gen big language model that is “more powerful than ChatGPT and customized specifically for search.”

The move calls into question Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring its product design and AI principles are closely linked at a time when the company is making its controversial AI tools available to the general public.

Microsoft still maintains its Office of Responsible AI (ORA), which sets rules for responsible AI through governance and public policy work. But employees told Platformer that the ethics and society team is responsible for ensuring that Microsoft’s responsible AI principles are actually reflected in the design of the products delivered. The team had recently worked to identify the risks posed by Microsoft’s integration of OpenAI technology into its product suite.

The ethics and society team was small — only about seven people remained after a reorganization in October. Sources who spoke to Platformer said pressure from CTO Kevin Scott and CEO Satya Nadella is mounting to get the newest OpenAI models, as well as future iterations, into the hands of customers as soon as possible. possible.

Last year’s reorganization saw most of the ethics and society team transferred to other teams. On March 6, John Montgomery, corporate vice president of AI, told the remaining members that they would eventually be eliminated. Team members told Platformer they believe they were fired because Microsoft focused more on delivering its AI products ahead of the competition and was less concerned with long-term socially responsible thinking.

Teams like Microsoft’s Ethics and Society department often pull the reins of large tech organizations by pointing out potential societal consequences or legal ramifications. Perhaps Microsoft no longer wanted to hear “no” because it was determined to take market share from Google’s search engine. The company said every 1% market share it could wrest from Google would generate $2 billion in annual revenue.

Microsoft could not be reached for comment.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top