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Microsoft gives AI ethics team the chop

Microsoft has laid off the division dedicated to guiding the ethics of its AI products.

Platformer reports that the entire ethics and society team within Microsoft has been let go as part of wider cuts of around 10,000 employees.

It means that Microsoft doesn’t have a team dedicated to AI ethics precisely at a time where it has hit major success with its new OpenAI-powered Bing search engine.

Microsoft Bing recently made the news for passing 100 million users, largely off the back of its Ai chatbot breakthrough.

This has led to concerns among employees of the now-culled ethics and society team, who claim that proper oversight is essential at this time.

“The worst thing is we’ve exposed the business to risk and human beings to risk in doing this,” said one former employee.

Microsoft, for its part, has said that it is investing more than ever in its Office of Responsible AI, which continues to exist within the company. It claims that this department, 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,” Microsoft said in a statement.

In recent meetings with the ethics and society team, Microsoft’s John Montgomery revealed that the higher-ups within the company were putting a lot of pressure on its AI teams to move more quickly in implementing OpenAI’s models. Clearly a team dedicated to applying the brakes and taking stock was standing in the way of that.

Most members of the ethics and society team are said to have been relocated within Microsoft.

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