Microsoft waved its entire ethics and society team within the artificial intelligence organisation as part of recent layoffs that affected 10,000 employees across the company, according to The Verge reported on Monday.
“People would look at the principles coming out of the office of responsible AI and say, ‘I don’t know how this applies,’” one former employee says, adding “our job was to show them and to create rules in areas where there were none.”
The ethics and society team was at its largest in 2020, when it had roughly 30 employees including engineers, designers, and philosophers. In October, the team was cut to roughly seven people as part of a reorganisation.
Amid the multiple waves of dramatic layoffs that have roiled Big Tech in recent months, Microsoft first announced plans in January to ax approximately 10,000 jobs from its global workforce by March 2023.