Why Microsoft got rid of its responsible AI team

Microsoft has fired a team that saw to it that employees build responsible and ethical AI tools, a decision that can be explained by the company’s desire to integrate OpenAI technology into all of its products and services as quickly as possible.

As Microsoft invests billions in its partnership with ChatGPT and Dall-E startup OpenAI, the company has fired its ethics team among its artificial intelligence (AI) workforce. According to Platformer’s specialist newsletter on Tuesday, March 14, these cuts are part of the company’s latest wave of layoffs, affecting 10,000 employees. The decision may come as a surprise, especially since the debate about the ethics of AI is in full swing, and Microsoft intends to add generative AI to its products and services. Its Bing search engine, Edge Web web browser, or Teams business communications platform have already been enhanced or will soon be enhanced by this AI.

This Ethics and Society team of engineers, designers and philosophers has already shrunk last October from 30 to 7 people. And now, since March, it’s just gone. According to our colleagues, its participants have ensured that the principles of responsible AI of Microsoft are really reflected in the design of the delivered products. In particular, they identified the risks associated with integrating OpenAI technology into their services. However, the company still has a team dedicated to responsible AI rules. Its participants determine the basic principles that the teams of the group must follow.

A decision that can be explained by Microsoft’s desire to act quickly

In a statement released on Tuesday, Microsoft explained that it is always committed to “developing AI products and experiences in a safe and responsible manner.” The company “does this by investing in people, processes and partnerships that prioritize this,” the company adds. As evidence, she offers her Office of Responsible Intelligence, which establishes the basic principles that all development teams must follow. “Over the past six years, we have increased the number of people in this office responsible for ensuring that our AI principles are put into practice,” recognizing “the groundbreaking work that the Ethics and Society team has done to help us in our ongoing work.” . the path of responsible AI,” she says.

Read also: Edge 111: Microsoft introduces second pilot animated ChatGPT in its browser

According to Platformer, who was able to interview these laid-off or reassigned employees, pressure was mounting to ensure nothing would delay the adoption of the latest OpenAI models. The group hopes to capture share of the search engine market that Google has reigned supreme for years. The issue of socially responsible AI would simply fade into the background.

When the first reorganization of this team was announced in October, one of the employees would have been against the decision to reduce the staff from 30 to 7 people, according to The Verge. “Although I understand that there are commercial issues […] what has always deeply concerned this team is the impact we have on society and the negative effects we have had. And they are important,” one of them said. Unsuccessfully.

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