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Microsoft reportedly laid off its ethics and society team, responsible for developing ethical AI practices within the company. According to reports, the layoffs are part of Microsoft’s larger effort to cut down on its workforce and affect nearly 10,000 employees.
The move comes at a time when Microsoft is also pushing for the integration of AI tools with its Bing search engine. While the company claims that it is committed to investing in responsible AI development, it has not clarified whether the staff from the ethics team were among those laid off.
Microsoft’s website states that its Office of Responsible AI is responsible for implementing company-wide rules for ethical AI, including governance and public policy work. The recent layoffs have raised concerns about the company’s commitment to ethical AI development and whether the performance of its AI tools may be affected.
Despite these concerns, Microsoft has continued to invest in AI development and recently renovated its Bing search engine. As part of this renovation, the company integrated the popular AI chatbot ChatGPT, which led to the search engine passing 100 million users.
However, the integration of ChatGPT with the search engine was not without its challenges. In the first few days, several users complained of “unhinged chats” with the chatbot, prompting Microsoft to roll out restrictions to limit the length of conversations users could have with it.
Despite these challenges, Microsoft remains committed to developing AI-powered products and has stated that it will continue to invest in responsible AI development. While the layoffs at the ethics and society team are concerning, it remains to be seen whether they will have a significant impact on the company’s AI tools’ performance.