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Monday, May 7, 2018

Microsoft is cutting off some sales over AI ethics

Alan Boyle
Originally published April 9, 2018

Concerns over the potential abuse of artificial intelligence technology have led Microsoft to cut off some of its customers, says Eric Horvitz, technical fellow and director at Microsoft Research Labs.

Horvitz laid out Microsoft’s commitment to AI ethics today during the Carnegie Mellon University – K&L Gates Conference on Ethics and AI, presented in Pittsburgh.

One of the key groups focusing on the issue at Microsoft is the Aether Committee, where “Aether” stands for AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research.

“It’s been an intensive effort … and I’m happy to say that this committee has teeth,” Horvitz said during his lecture.

He said the committee reviews how Microsoft’s AI technology could be used by its customers, and makes recommendations that go all the way up to senior leadership.

“Significant sales have been cut off,” Horvitz said. “And in other sales, various specific limitations were written down in terms of usage, including ‘may not use data-driven pattern recognition for use in face recognition or predictions of this type.’ ”

Horvitz didn’t go into detail about which customers or specific applications have been ruled out as the result of the Aether Committee’s work, although he referred to Microsoft’s human rights commitments.

The information is here.