Things haven’t been business as usual over at Microsoft ever since the year started, especially after it highlighted its plan to cut 10,000 employees from its workforce. Satya Nadella, the company’s CEO that they were facing a different reality, thus prompting the move to lay off some employees.
Since then, Microsoft has been sporadically laying off employees across various divisions. Thus far, the company’s Surface, Xbox, and HoloLens divisions have been affected. Last week, the company also filed a WARN notice which saw 689 employees based in Redmond, Bellevue, and Issaquah lose their jobs.
And now, according to a report, more employees at Microsoft have been laid off. This time, the company has reportedly laid off the ethics and society team that’s part of the artificial intelligence organization. The team’s mandate is to ensure that Microsoft’s AI principles align with product designs.
A former employee added that “People would look at the principles coming out of the office of responsible AI and say, ‘I don’t know how this applies. Our job was to show them and to create rules in areas where there were none.”
This unfortunate news comes at a time when the company is working towards integrating AI across its products and services, especially after Microsoft extended its partnership with OpenAI by making a multibillion dollar investment. The company has gone on to debut the new Bing, the AI copilot for the web, and even further integrated it across Bing, Edge Mobile apps, and Skype.
Microsoft has however indicated that despite the layoffs, the AI division still remains active and will continue to deliver on its responsibilities. The company further added that:
Microsoft is committed to developing AI products and experiences safely and responsibly, and does so by investing in people, processes, and partnerships that prioritize this,” the company said in a statement. “Over the past six years we have increased the number of people across our product teams and within the Office of Responsible AI who, along with all of us at Microsoft, are accountable for ensuring we put our AI principles into practice. […] We appreciate the trailblazing work the ethics and society team did to help us on our ongoing responsible AI journey.
While the news is quite unfortunate, we’re likely to see more layoffs hit the Redmond giant over the next couple of months. As it stands, the company is nowhere near the 10,000 mark for the employees it intends to send home.