Microsoft is reportedly trimming its workforce in the news business further amid shift to artificial intelligence (AI)-based algorithms and automation to perform their editorial duties, GeekWire has claimed.
Reports in May said Microsoft laid off at least 50 news production workers who were in contract positions. "The company is now laying off an unspecified number of direct employees from MSN, including some senior leaders on the Microsoft News editorial team, according to people familiar with the situation," the report claimed this week.
Laying off Nearly 50 Employees
Microsoft did not confirm the layoffs and offered GeekWire "no comment" on the situation. According to the report, Microsoft's fiscal year ended on June 30 "and it's common for Microsoft to restructure some of its operations in conjunction with the annual milestone".
The Seattle Times reported in May that the roughly 50 employees contracted through staffing agencies were notified "that their services would no longer be needed beyond June 30". In an article in Motherboard last week, former MSN Money editor Bryan Joiner detailed how "the robots Microsoft assigned to do my job can't do it".
Replacing Full-time Journalists
Joiner lost his job among full-time journalists when Microsoft replaced the team tasked with curating and editing MSN news content with AI software. "Based on how far they've come down this road, the algorithm will sink or swim on its own, which is to say it'll probably sink and take down the whole of MSN with it," Joiner wrote.
Last month, a mixed-race member of British pop group Little Mix pointed out that AI editors at Microsoft's news and search site MSN.com mixed-up photos of the band members.
The AI editor failed to tell the difference between two mixed-race members of the pop group Little Mix. Microsoft News AI published a story that was about Little Mix member Jade Thirlwall's problems facing racism. However, the published story had a photo of fellow Little Mix bandmate Leigh-Anne Pinnock. Thirlwall noticed the mistake and complained on Twitter.