Microsoft continues to have people who care about ethics and responsible development around the field of artificial intelligence (AI). The independent “Team for Ethics and Society” was dissolved, but hundreds of employees in different teams are said to continue to take care of ethical issues in AI development, including newly founded ethics teams.
The US magazine Platformer recently drew attention to the dissolution of the team for ethics and society in the context of the industry-wide waves of layoffs and quoted internals that the pressure to succeed from above was too great. Microsoft now replies that some of the members have moved to other teams within the company.
The translated statement in full reads:
“As we have shared with Platformer, the story, as written, leaves the impression that Microsoft has divested into responsible AI across the board, which is not the case.
The Ethics and Society team played a key role at the beginning of our responsible AI journey, instigating the culture of responsible innovation that Microsoft leadership is committed to. This initial work helped foster the interdisciplinary way in which we work across research, policy and technology at Microsoft.
Since 2017, we have worked hard to institutionalize this work and put in place organizational structures and governance processes that we know to be effective in incorporating responsible AI considerations into our technical systems and processes. We have hundreds of people working on these issues across the business, including new, dedicated Responsible AI teams that have since been established and have grown significantly in that time, including the Office of Responsible AI and a Responsible AI team called RAIL, which is embedded in the engineering team responsible for our Azure OpenAI service.
Fewer than ten team members from the Ethics and Society team were affected, and some of the former members now hold key positions in our Office of Responsible AI and the RAIL team.”
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