Ethical AI: Let Us Not Take Our Eye Off the Money Ball, Shall We?

March 15, 2023

What full-time job includes an automatic ejection seat?

Flying an F 35? Yes.

Working on ethical and responsible smart software? Yes. A super duper ejection module too.

I wonder if Google’s enabling of the stochastic parrot conference and the Dr. Timnit Gebru incident made an impression on Microsoft? Hmmm. I the information in “Microsoft Just Laid Off One of Its Responsible AI Teams” is accurate, Microsoft’s management has either [a] internalized the Google approach or [b] missed the memorandum describing downstream effects of deprecating “responsible AI.”


The image above was output by True, one of the Beyond Search researchers added the evil red eye and the pile of cash. We think the evil eye and the money illustrate where ethical behavior ranks among the priorities of some senior executives.

The write up by two of the Land of Bank Crashes favorites reports:

Microsoft laid off its entire ethics and society team within the artificial intelligence organization as part of recent layoffs that affected 10,000 employees across the company … The move leaves Microsoft without a dedicated team to ensure its AI principles are closely tied to product design …

The article is about 1,500 words, and I suggest you work through the essay/news/chest thumper.

Several observations:

  1. The objective is control, not ethical control. Just control.
  2. Smart software knows how to string together words, not what the words connote.
  3. MBAs with incentive plans view ethics as an interesting concept but one with the appeal of calculating their bonuses on an Amiga computer.

Net net: What exactly is the news about a big tech company trimming its ethics professionals? I thought it was standard operating procedure.

PS. I admire the begging for sign up pleas as well. Classy for some “real news” write ups. Ejection seat activated.

Stephen E Arnold, March 15, 2023


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