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Microsoft ‘cuts off’ some customers over AI abuse fears

MICROSOFT HAS REPORTEDLY cut ties with a number of customers over concerns that they could end up abusing artificial intelligence (A) technology.

According to a report from GeekWire, Eric Horvitz, who is technical fellow and director of Microsoft Research Labs, is becoming increasingly worried that some companies may exploit AI technology in the wrong way.

Speaking at Carnegie Mellon University KL Gates Conference on Ethics and AI on Monday, Horvitz explained that the Microsoft is not afraid to take action against rogue AI.

He detailed Microsoft’s AI and machine learning ethics data, which is called Aether (AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research), and said the committee behind it has “teeth” and making an “intensive effort” to ensure that AI systems do not get out of control.

The committee is tasked with reviewing ways in which Microsoft’s AI products can be deployed by its customers, said Horvitz, with decisions often coming from senior leadership.

Horvitz said that “significant sales have been cut off” as a result of the committee intervening with customer AI plans, but he did not name firms or products.

“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,” he said.

Related: Microsoft’s XiaoIce AI learns how to interrupt tactfully

Microsoft offers a range of AI products, including the cloud-based Microsoft Cognitive Services portfolio, which includes facial recognition and emotion recognition solutions.

Governments and large companies across the world have already bought into this suite of products, although Horvitz reiterated the fact that Microsoft regulates the usage of these systems.

In the future, Horvitz believes that AI technologies will be able to keep themselves in check. “You can imagine giving systems the ability to monitor their performance,” he added.

But for this technology to succeed, Horvitz said that humans and AI will need to work as a team. “We’re talking about AI designs for complementarity,” he concluded. µ

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