For the past few months, Microsoft has been busy developing and releasing artificial intelligence products. This includes its Bing Chat chatbot and search AI, its Copilot products to help with various apps, and more. However, there are also many concerns about how companies like Microsoft will handle privacy and ethical issues associated with the use of AI products.
In March, it shuttered its ethics and society team as part of the company’s plan to lay off 10,000 employees. today, In a blog postNatasha Crampton, Microsoft’s chief responsible AI officer, wrote about why the decision was made as part of an overall look at the company’s responsible AI plans.
Crompton said the ethics and society team was “critical to enabling us to get to where we are today.” However, he said that Microsoft decided to make some organizational changes for the company’s responsible AI division:
Last year, we made two significant changes to our Responsive AI ecosystem: First, we made significant new investments in the team responsible for our Azure OpenAI service, which includes cutting-edge technology like GPT-4. And second, we added expertise to some of our user research and design teams by moving former Ethics and Society team members into these teams. Following these changes, we made the tough decision to lay off the rest of the Ethics and Society team, which affected seven people. Any decision affecting our colleagues is not easy, but it was guided by our experience of highly effective organizational structures to ensure our responsible AI practices are adopted throughout the company.
Crompton says Microsoft now has 350 people working on responsible AI in some capacity. Of that number, 129 employees are working full-time on this topic alone and the rest responsible for AI is a major part of their duties. He added that Microsoft plans to hire new employees and move some current employees to full-time roles in responsible AI duties, and that more on those efforts should be disclosed “in the coming months.” will
The blog post also talks about Microsoft’s Responsible AI Council, which meets regularly to discuss these topics. The council is chaired by the company’s president, Brad Smith, and its CTO, Kevin Scott. It also talks about how Microsoft is working to introduce responsible AI ethics across the company’s divisions. Crampton said:
We have senior leaders tasked with leading responsible AI within each core business group and a large network of responsible AI “champions” with multiple skills and roles for more regular, direct engagement. Continuously train and develop work.
While all of these plans seem like Microsoft is taking many people’s concerns about the rise of AI seriously, we’ll have to see if the company’s actions live up to its words in the coming months and years. .