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Microsoft lays off its team responsible for ensuring responsible AI

Microsoft just laid off the entire ethics and society team within its artificial intelligence (AI) department as part of its plan announced back in January to lay off 10,000 employees, according to a report by Platformer.

As a result of this move, the Redmond tech giant no longer has a team to ensure that its AI principles are closely tied to product design. However, the company still maintains an active Office of Responsible AI department that creates rules and principles to govern its AI initiatives. And despite the recent layoffs, Microsoft says that it is continuing to invest in responsible AI.

The company said the following in a statement:

"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. 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 & Society did to help us on our ongoing responsible AI journey."

According to Microsoft employees, however, the ethics and society team were essential in ensuring that the company’s responsible AI principles actually manifest in the design of products that become available to the public.

"People would look at the principles coming out of the office of responsible AI and say, ‘I don’t know how this applies,'" one former employee says. "Our job was to show them and to create rules in areas where there were none."

About a week ago, Microsoft gave the pink slip to 689 employees from its Seattle-area offices. The departments that were affected included Visual Studio for Mac, Entertainment & Devices, Azure Edge + Platform, and more.

Source: Platformer

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