Microsoft has been grabbing headlines for its push into AI during the first months of 2023. In some ways, that interest is masking over the fact the company is in the midst of slashing 10,000 employees from its payroll. According to a new reports, the latest cut happened last week in the Microsoft ethics and society team.
In January, Microsoft dismissed reports of thousands of layoffs as rumor, before announcing days later it would be ditching 10,000 Microsoft employees.
Since then, we have seen the HoloLens division take the first hit, with many layoffs transforming Microsoft's vision for mixed reality. Over the last two months, the Surface and Xbox divisions have also been a part of the layoffs.
According to a report from Platformer, Microsoft has also been recently removing workers from the ethics and society team. If you are unfamiliar with this group, it is a part of Microsoft's artificial intelligence business. The team ensures that Microsoft is adhering to AI principles for safety and ethics.
Yes, it is extremely ironic that as Microsoft is going full steam ahead with AI. Just yesterday, Bing Chat was telling me off for having a boring conversation that it didn't like “emotionally”. Services like the ChatGPT-powered Bing do raise ethical questions. It is (not so) nice to see Microsoft is laying off a part of its AI ethics team during these times.
In a statement, Microsoft says that it remains committed to fulfilling the responsibilities of safe AI:
“Microsoft is committed to developing AI products and experiences safely and responsibly, and does so by investing in people, processes, and partnerships that prioritize this,” the company said in a statement. “Over the past six years we have increased the number of people across our product teams and within the Office of Responsible AI who, 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.”
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