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Microsoft fires ethical AI team ahead of its flagship developer conference

Microsoft has already introduced its new Bing-powered by next-generation ChatGPT AI, and also updated its Edge browser with new artificial intelligence capabilities

As per the latest media reports, tech giant Microsoft has laid off its entire ethics and society team dedicated to ensuring artificial intelligence (AI) innovations that are ethical, responsible and sustainable.

The tech giant announced earlier that the layoffs at the artificial intelligence ethics team were part of more significant job cuts (10 000 employees).

According to a report in Platformer, citing sources, the move leaves “Microsoft without a dedicated team to ensure its artificial intelligence principles are closely tied to product design at a time when the company is leading the charge to make AI tools available to the mainstream.”

Microsoft still has an active Office of Responsible AI.

“Microsoft is committed to developing AI products and experiences safely and responsibly, and does so by investing in people, processes, and partnerships that prioritise this,” the company said in a statement.

However, employees said that the ethics and society team played a crucial role in ensuring responsible artificial intelligence principles are reflected in its products.

According to the report, the team has been working to identify risks posed by Microsoft’s adoption of OpenAI’s technology throughout its bouquet of products like the Bing Search engine.

The ethics and society team had around 30 employees, including engineers, designers, and philosophers, in 2020.

In October 2022, the report said the team was cut to roughly seven people as part of a reorganisation.

The development comes ahead of ‘Build’, Microsoft`s annual developer conference, which will likely be held in Seattle from May 23-25, 2023.

The event, which witnesses developers, architects, start-ups, and students learn, connect, and code together, sharing knowledge and expanding their skillset, may focus more on artificial intelligence this year, as per reports.

Microsoft has already introduced its new Bing-powered by “next-generation” ChatGPT AI, and also updated its Edge browser with new artificial intelligence capabilities.

The AI-powered Bing search engine has surpassed 100 million daily active users, as ChatGPT’s integration into Bing has helped the tech giant to grow its usage within a month like never before.

Meanwhile, OpenAI released its GPT-4, the latest version of the groundbreaking artificial intelligence system that powers ChatGPT. As per the company, the new product will be more creative, less likely to make up facts and less biased than its predecessor.

OpenAI co-founder Sam Altman stated that the new system was a “multimodal” model, where it can handle massive text inputs, apart from being able to remember and act on more than 20,000 words at once, letting it take an entire novella as a prompt.

The new model has been made available for users of ChatGPT Plus, the paid-for version of ChatGPT, which provided some of the training data for the latest release.

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