Microsoft has recently fired its entire AI ethics and society team, which was responsible for identifying the risks associated with integrating OpenAI technologies into Microsoft’s product suite.
This move raises questions about Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring that the design of its products implements the principles of responsible AI. The decision to dissolve the team resulted from a massive layoff that affected 10,000 employees, and Microsoft’s investment in responsible work will reportedly increase despite the layoffs.
Microsoft has been heavily investing in AI, partnering with OpenAI, creators of ChatGPT and DALL-E 2, and updating its Bing search engine and Edge web browser to use a new, next-generation, large language model. However, with the AI ethics team dissolved, Microsoft no longer has a dedicated team to ensure that AI principles are closely connected to product development. This lack of oversight may have long-term consequences, especially as Microsoft aims to make AI tools available to the public.
The team’s dissolution came as Microsoft became less interested in the long-term consequences of AI implementation, according to team members. However, Microsoft still has an Office of Responsible AI that sets the rules for responsible AI through governance and public policy work. Despite recent layoffs, the company’s investment in responsible AI is growing.
As the use of AI becomes more widespread, companies must consider the ethical implications of their products. Without dedicated teams to ensure responsible AI principles are implemented, there is a risk that AI tools could have harmful consequences.