Experts are concerned about the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence (AI) technology, which they say requires regulation to avoid potentially negative consequences. Microsoft recently laid off its AI team, which was in charge of overseeing the company’s AI products in order to avoid social issues. The team’s primary responsibility was to forecast the potential negative consequences of AI technology for Microsoft engineers.
The AI team was among the 10,000 employees laid off by Microsoft recently as it reduced its workforce due to a slowdown in advertising spending and concerns about a recession. The company’s decision to lay off the AI team has alarmed experts, who believe that the increased use of AI technology necessitates regulation to prevent it from causing social problems.
My take is that moving to a future where the tech we build addresses and uproots systems of oppression (instead of replicating or further entrenching them) is an all-hands-on-deck task:
— @[email protected] on Mastodon (@emilymbender) December 9, 2020
The AI team had created a “responsible innovation toolkit” in order to forecast any potential negative effects of AI technology on Microsoft’s engineers. “These technologies have the potential to injure people, undermine our democracies, and even erode human rights – and they’re growing in complexity, power, and ubiquity,” according to the toolkit. The team’s task was to reduce the risk associated with the OpenAI technology used in Microsoft’s products.
While Microsoft has stated that it is “committed to creating AI products and experiences in a safe and responsible manner,” critics argue that self-regulation is insufficient to keep AI technology from causing social issues. “Self-regulation was never going to be sufficient,” said Emily Bender, a professor of computational linguistics and ethical issues in natural language processing, “but I believe that internal teams working in concert with external regulation could have been a highly useful combination.”
The increased use of AI technology has raised concerns among experts, who believe that it requires regulation to avoid causing social problems. ChatGPT, a conversational robot that allows humans to converse in natural language, was recently released by OpenAI and has quickly become a buzzing tool in tech circles. Microsoft invested $10 billion in OpenAI, valuing it at approximately $29 billion. Despite Microsoft’s decision to lay off its AI team, the company’s Office of Responsible AI, as well as two other responsible AI working groups, the Aether Committee and Responsible AI Strategy in Engineering, remain operational.