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Microsoft's Layoffs of Responsible AI Training Team Raise Ethics Concerns
Microsoft has laid off its entire ethics and society team, which played a critical role in ensuring that the company's responsible AI principles were reflected in the design of its products. The team's dismissal leaves Microsoft without a dedicated team to ensure its AI principles are closely tied to product design at a time when the company is leading the charge to make AI tools available to the mainstream. Despite the layoffs, Microsoft maintains an active Office of Responsible AI, which is tasked with creating rules and principles to govern the company's AI initiatives.
Crypto’s 24/7 Trading Disrupted By Bank Crisis
The recent closure of two major crypto-friendly banks, Signature Bank and Silvergate, has disrupted the 24/7 trading of cryptocurrencies. Crypto exchanges like Okcoin have paused US dollar deposits and wire and ACH transfers due to the closure of Signature Bank, their primary bank for USD deposits. The loss of these banks will make it harder for crypto companies to find new banks, and even if they can, the onboarding process may take months, slowing down transaction speeds. The loss of stablecoins may cause big investors to pull back from crypto trading, and crypto startups are looking to build or buy banks to serve other crypto firms. The interest of traditional hedge funds and institutional investors in crypto trading may also be at risk in the short term.
Y Combinator Ends Late-Stage Startup Fund and Lays Off Staff
Y Combinator, the Silicon Valley startup accelerator, has decided not to raise another continuity fund, which backs mature private tech companies. Instead, it will focus on its core accelerator, which backs early-stage companies. The partners who led the fund, Anu Hariharan and Ali Rowghani, plan to leave the firm and set up a fund together. The decision follows a sharp pullback in venture funding for late-stage companies, and Y Combinator wants to decrease the amount of late-stage investing it does. Seventeen YC employees lost their jobs as a result of the decision.
SVB Sends a Chill Through Hot SXSW
The recent implosion of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) hung over the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival kickoff, but regulators announced they would backstop all deposits, bringing relief. The festival saw a strong presence of creators, with digital stars gathering at meetups and TikTok putting on a pop-up experience. Some startups used the festival to make creator-related announcements, including Flipboard launching the Flipboard Creator Collective and Kajabi announcing that its creators have earned $5 billion in gross merchandising value. Meanwhile, Launch House, an Andreessen Horowitz-backed startup that ran an accelerator for startups in the creator economy and other sectors, announced it is shutting down its accelerator program.