Microsoft, the Techno-Lord: Avoid My Galloping Steed, Please

November 27, 2023

green-dino_thumb_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dumb dinobaby. No smart software required.

The Merriam-Webster.com online site defines “responsibility” this way:

re·?spon·?si·?bil·?I·?ty

1 : the quality or state of being responsible: such as
: moral, legal, or mental accountability
: RELIABILITY, TRUSTWORTHINESS
: something for which one is responsible

The online sector has a clever spin on responsibility; that is, in my opinion, the companies have none. Google wants people who use its online tools and post content created with those tools to make sure that what the Google system outputs does not violate any applicable rules, regulations, or laws.

image

In a traditional fox hunt, the hunters had the “right” to pursue the animal. If a farmer’s daughter were in the way, it was the farmer’s responsibility to keep the silly girl out of the horse’s path. That will teach them to respect their betters I assume. Thanks, MSFT Copilot. I know you would not put me in a legal jeopardy, would you? Now what are the laws pertaining to copyright for a cartoon in Armenia? Darn, I have to know that, don’t I.

Such a crafty way of  defining itself as the mere creator of software machines has inspired Microsoft to follow a similar path. The idea is that anyone using Microsoft products, solutions, and services is “responsible” to comply with applicable rules, regulations, and laws.

Tidy. Logical. Complete. Just like a nifty algebra identity.

Microsoft Wants YOU to Be Sued for Copyright Infringement, Washes Its Hands of AI Copyright Misuse and Says Users Should Be Liable for Copyright Infringement” explains:

Microsoft believes they have no liability if an AI, like Copilot, is used to infringe on copyrighted material.

The write up includes this passage:

So this all comes down to, according to Microsoft, that it is providing a tool, and it is up to users to use that tool within the law. Microsoft says that it is taking steps to prevent the infringement of copyright by Copilot and its other AI products, however, Microsoft doesn’t believe it should be held legally responsible for the actions of end users.

The write up (with no Jimmy Kimmel spin) includes this statement, allegedly from someone at Microsoft:

Microsoft is willing to work with artists, authors, and other content creators to understand concerns and explore possible solutions. We have adopted and will continue to adopt various tools, policies, and filters designed to mitigate the risk of infringing outputs, often in direct response to the feedback of creators. This impact may be independent of whether copyrighted works were used to train a model, or the outputs are similar to existing works. We are also open to exploring ways to support the creative community to ensure that the arts remain vibrant in the future.

From my drafty office in rural Kentucky, the refusal to accept responsibility for its business actions, its products, its policies to push tools and services on users, and the outputs of its cloudy system is quite clever. Exactly how will a user of products pushed at users like Edge and its smart features prevent a user from acquiring from a smart Microsoft system something that violates an applicable rule, regulation, or law?

But legal and business cleverness is the norm for the techno-feudalists. Let the surfs deal with the body of the child killed when the barons chase a fox through a small leasehold. I can hear the brave royals saying, “It’s your fault. Your daughter was in the way. No, I don’t care that she was using the free Microsoft training materials to learn how to use our smart software.”

Yep, responsible. The death of the hypothetical child frees up another space in the training course.

Stephen E Arnold, November 27, 2023

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