Microsoft has reportedly axed an entire team responsible for ethical AI as part of a recent round of lay-offs, a move which comes at a time when it is ramping efforts to bring the technology to the mainstream.
News outlet Platformer reported the technology giant had let go of its AI ethics and society team, which sits within its AI organisation, leaving the company without a dedicated set of employees to ensure its governing standards are tied to products.
In total, the unit had around 30 employees in 2020 but was trimmed to seven in October 2022 following an organisational shake-up.
The AI ethics and society team were part of 10,000 employees axed across the company earlier this year in response to the global economic downturn.
Microsoft, however still maintains an active Office of Responsible AI, tasked with creating rules and principles to govern its initiative.
n a statement to Platformer, Microsoft asserted it is committed to developing AI products and experiences safely.
An ex-employee told Platformer corporate VP of AI John Montgomery had instructed its AI unit to develop products more quickly in a bid to get the technology into the hands of consumers faster.
However, this led the company to become “less interested” in taking the time to create “more socially-responsible products”, the source added.
News of the cuts comes around two monthsafter Microsoft committed to invest billions in OpenAI, the maker of popular AI offering ChatGPT.
Microsoft then announced plans to revamp its Bing search engine and Edge browser, integrating the services with ChatGPT.