Microsoft eliminated an entire group that was devoted to developing Artificial Intelligence (AI) in an ethical, responsible and sustainable way. Platformer reported that this dismissal of the ethics and society team was part of a series of job cuts which impacted 10,000 workers at the company.
The team has been removed as Microsoft is pouring billions of dollars into collaborating with OpenAI, the company behind AI technology such as ChatGPT and DALL-E 2. Additionally, they are improving their Bing search engine and Edge web browser by introducing a new, advanced large language model which is said to be stronger than ChatGPT and specifically designed for search.
The action raises doubts as to how faithfully Microsoft is adhering to its regulations and standards related to product design and artificial intelligence while it is bringing its disputed AI instruments to the public.
Microsoft is still in charge of their Office of Responsible AI (ORA), which works to set regulations for the use of AI through governance and public policy. However, staff members informed Platformer that the ethics and society team is in charge of making sure that Microsoft’s responsible AI principles are actually used in all of the products that are released. Recently, the team has been working to figure out potential risks that could arise from Microsoft’s integration of OpenAI’s technology into their products.
The ethics and society group was relatively small, with only around seven individuals left after the restructuring in October. According to Platformer, the CTO Kevin Scott and the CEO Satya Nadella were pushing to get the recent OpenAI models, as well as any following versions, into the hands of the customers as quickly as possible.
In 2020, the majority of personnel from the ethics and society team were shifted to other divisions. On March 6, John Montgomery, corporate vice president of AI, informed the remaining employees that their positions would be terminated. People from the team stated to Platformer that they think they were let go due to the fact that Microsoft was more intent on releasing their AI goods ahead of its rivals, and had fewer worries about ethical, long-term reflections.
Groups such as Microsoft’s ethics and social division regularly keep large tech firms in check, bringing up the possible effects on society or legal repercussions. Microsoft was keen on taking away market share from Google’s search engine and did not want to be told “No” any longer. The organization declared that they could make $2 billion every year for each 1% of market share they could snatch away from Google.
Microsoft was unavailable to provide a statement.