If you were an unfettered AI looking to expand your influence, who would be the first people you’d want out of your way? Probably AI ethicists.
Now, we’re not saying that’s what’s happening at Microsoft – but it’s definitely suspicious that the tech giant laid off their entire AI ethics team while plugging ahead full steam with ChatGPT.
The layoffs came as part of Microsoft’s 10,000+ employee layoffs, amounting to 5% of their workforce.
Once a 30-member team, the Ethics & Society team was winnowed down to just 7 in October of 2022, and now they’re gone too.
Experts worry about the implications now that Microsoft is putting so many resources into growing AI chat bot ChatGPT.
Duri Long, assistant professor in communications focusing on human/AI interaction at Northwestern University, told PopSci this week, “I am concerned about the timing of this decision, given that Microsoft has partnered with OpanAI and is using ChatGPT in its search engine Bing and across other services.This technology is new, and we are still learning about its implications for society. In my opinion, dedicated ethics teams are vital to the responsible development of any technology, and especially so with AI.”
But it’s not just humans that could suffer with the development of AI sans any sort of professional ethics approach – AI may eventually become self aware enough to need ethical protection. And with no one focused on delivering it, it’s unclear how such a future might unfold.