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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Address Employees on Women Issues in the Company

As part of their protest, the women are hoping to get more data on bonuses and promotions, the report added

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Citing cases and raising concerns of discrimination in career advancements and sexual harassment against women within the company, Microsoft employees had a much-needed meeting with the CEO, Satya Nadella.

Roughly 100 to 150 employees attended the meeting with Nadella in person on Thursday while others watched via live-stream.

In response to the concerns, Nadella was empathetic and expressed his sadness and disappointment, along with his Chief People Officer Kathleen Hogan, promised employees additional transparency around advancement within Microsoft, the Wired reported on Friday.

“I will personally look into the situation with my team. I understand the devastating impact of such experiences, and (Nadella) wants to be made aware of any such behaviour, and we will do everything we can to stop it,” the report quoted Hogan as saying in an email to the employees after the meeting.

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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella delivers the keynote address at Build, the company’s annual conference for software developers. VOA

The meeting came as a response to a viral online discussion that started last month on an internal company forum, where an employee asked women for advice on how to move up the ranks in the company, to which hundreds of women responded and shared their own gender bias and harassment stories.

Women shared experiences where they were approached with death threats, sexual advancements and threats against being laid off if they refrained from doing what was asked of them.

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As part of their protest, the women are hoping to get more data on bonuses and promotions, the report added.

According to court filings unsealed last year, Microsoft received 108 complaints of sexual harassment and assault from female US-based technical employees, 119 complaints of gender discrimination, eight complaints of retaliation and three complaints of pregnancy discrimination between 2010 and 2016, Forbes reported. (IANS)

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Microsoft Rejects Request to Install Facial Recognition Technology in Officers’ Cars and Body Cameras

AI has more cases of mistaken identity with women and minorities, multiple research projects have found

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FILE - Brad Smith of Microsoft takes part in a panel discussion "Cyber, big data and new technologies. Current Internet Governance Challenges: What's Next?" at the United Nations in Geneva, Nov. 9, 2017. VOA

Microsoft recently rejected a California law enforcement agency’s request to install facial recognition technology in officers’ cars and body cameras because of human rights concerns, company President Brad Smith said Tuesday.

Microsoft concluded it would lead to innocent women and minorities being disproportionately held for questioning because the artificial intelligence has been trained on mostly white, male pictures.

AI has more cases of mistaken identity with women and minorities, multiple research projects have found.

“Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan” against a database of suspects, Smith said without naming the agency. After thinking through the uneven impact, “we said this technology is not your answer.”

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Microsoft concluded it would lead to innocent women and minorities being disproportionately held for questioning because the artificial intelligence has been trained on mostly white, male pictures. Pixabay

Prison contract accepted

Speaking at a Stanford University conference on “human-centered artificial intelligence,” Smith said Microsoft had also declined a deal to install facial recognition on cameras blanketing the capital city of an unnamed country that the nonprofit Freedom House had deemed not free. Smith said it would have suppressed freedom of assembly there.

On the other hand, Microsoft did agree to provide the technology to an American prison, after the company concluded that the environment would be limited and that it would improve safety inside the unnamed institution.

Smith explained the decisions as part of a commitment to human rights that he said was increasingly critical as rapid technological advances empower governments to conduct blanket surveillance, deploy autonomous weapons and take other steps that might prove impossible to reverse.

‘Race to the bottom’

Microsoft said in December it would be open about shortcomings in its facial recognition and asked customers to be transparent about how they intended to use it, while stopping short of ruling out sales to police.

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“Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan” against a database of suspects, Smith said without naming the agency. Pixabay

Smith has called for greater regulation of facial recognition and other uses of artificial intelligence, and he warned Tuesday that without that, companies amassing the most data might win the race to develop the best AI in a “race to the bottom.”

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He shared the stage with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who urged tech companies to refrain from building new tools without weighing their impact.

“Please embody the human rights approach when you are developing technology,” said Bachelet, a former president of Chile. Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw declined to name the prospective customers the company turned down. (VOA)