Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has always advocated for AI to be used alongside instead of in place of employees, but it seems when the opportunity arose Microsoft was just too happy to take advantage of an all-AI solution.
BusinessInsider reports that Microsoft News has just laid off dozens of editors for MSN.com in favour of an AI-driven system of picking news.
MSN.com is a top destination for news in USA, and claims to reach 500 million people in 140 countries. Around 50 staff are affected in USA. They are not direct employees of Microsoft but work via staffing agencies Aquent and MAQ Consulting. There are concerns that the quality of news offered would suffer in the AI-driven news aggregation system, allowing fake and misleading news to be distributed for example.
Microsoft News says it uses AI to scans content, understand “dimensions like freshness, category, topic type, opinion content and potential popularity and then presents it for our editors. Our algorithms suggest appropriate photos to pair with content to help bring stories to life. Editors then curate the top stories throughout the day, across a variety of topics, so our readers get the latest news from the best sources.” Microsoft has however been working to remove the human element, which costs around $40 per hour each.
BusinessInsider suspects the move was driven by the Bing team, which now owns Microsoft News.
A Microsoft spokesperson said: “Like all companies, we evaluate our business on a regular basis. This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, re-deployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic.”