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Microsoft has laid off an entire team dedicated to responsibly guiding their AI innovation, according to Platformer. The elimination of the team comes as Microsoft invests more money into its partnership with OpenAI, a startup that produces art and text-generating AI systems.
This move raises questions about whether or not the company is truly committed to ensuring its product design and AI principles stay connected at a time when they are making its controversial AI tools accessible to the public.
The ethics and society team consisted of only seven members after a reorganization in October, and sources told Platformer. They added that pressure from CEO Satya Nadella was increasing for them to get OpenAI’s models out into the customers’ hands quickly.
In March, Microsoft eliminated the remaining members of the ethics and society team, which employees believed was due to Microsoft’s ambition to take market share away from Google’s search engine — a move that could result in up to $2 billion in annual revenue for every 1% of market share gained.
Generally, teams like Microsoft’s ethics and society department are able to make sure technology companies are aware of any possible legal or societal consequences of their products.
However, without this type of oversight, it remains unclear what effects these AI tools may have on both people and the planet.
It is too soon to tell if Microsoft’s move to fire the ethics team will have a negative impact on society. Will they be taking a shoot first and aim later approach?
It raises some important questions that need to be answered.
Should we just let AI technology advance as fast as possible without considering the potential consequences?
Is this a case of a large corporation putting profits before people?
Only time will tell what effect if any, Microsoft’s decision will have on society.
What do you think? Leave your comments below.