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Jul 15, 2020

Microsoft cuts MSN news staffers in move toward AI editors

Notable Calls: Microsoft, Cisco and Pentair

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SEATTLE -- Microsoft cut dozens of full-time staffers from its MSN news service, continuing an initiative to move away from human editors in favour of artificial intelligence.

The change comes six weeks after the technology giant told about 50 news production contractors their tenures at MSN would not last beyond June 30.

A Microsoft spokesperson told The Seattle Times the company eliminated "a small number" of roles Monday across various departments, including MSN, but would not provide specific numbers.

Since 2014, MSN has whittled down its original news-gathering operation, instead partnering with other news sites and paying them to redistribute their content.

The Guardian reported that the company's AI software in early June confused two mixed-race singers from the British band Little Mix. MSN mistakenly used a photograph of Leigh-Anne Pinnock for a story about fellow band-member Jade Thirlwall and her personal reflections on racism.

Thirlwall quickly voiced her displeasure on Instagram. "@MSN If you're going to copy and paste articles from other accurate media outlets, you might want to make sure you're using an image of the correct mixed race member of the group," she wrote, adding: "It offends me that you couldn't differentiate the two women of colour out of four members of a group DO BETTER!"