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AI Replacements Trigger Mass Layoffs In Global Tech Firms

| Updated: February 21, 2024 21:16

Google has announced a wave of fresh layoffs, which people in the know of things believe has been triggered by suitable AI-based replacements for the traditional workforce.

The tech giant made roughly 1,000 employees redundant across its sales, hardware, and engineering teams last month, and confirmed a few hundred were laid off of each team.

The development comes at a time when the company has reported profits. It reported that it made a $20.7 billion profit in the fourth quarter of 2023, an increase of 52 per cent compared to the previous year, yet its workforce shrunk by four per cent.

Other major artificial intelligence investors such as Amazon, Microsoft, Discord, and eBay have also laid off tens of thousands of workers in the past 12 months.

Staff are now pushing back against the layoffs, and Google software engineer Diane Hirsh Theriault wrote on LinkedIn that the ‘glassy-eyed leaders are trying to point in a vague direction (AI) while at the same time killing their golden goose.’

The Alphabet Workers’ Union responded to the layoffs on X, writing: ‘Tonight, Google began another round of needless layoffs.

‘Our members and teammates work hard every day to build great products for our users, and the company cannot continue to fire our coworkers while making billions every quarter. We won’t stop fighting until our jobs are safe!’

Kenneth Smith, an engineering manager at Google, said management notified him that his job was being eliminated in an email and complained in a LinkedIn post that the company didn’t ‘acknowledge their humanity.’

‘I’ve harbored a lot of anger and frustration at Google’s leadership for how they handled the layoffs of twelve thousand people last January,’ he wrote, adding: ‘And I don’t see a lot of evidence that they’ve learned much from that experience.’

Google released its large language model (LLM) Goose last week, which was built for internal use only and was trained on more than 25 years of engineering expertise.

‘It can answer questions around Google-specific technologies, write code using internal tech stacks, and supports novel capabilities such as editing code based on natural language prompts,’ according to an internal summary.’

Major layoffs have come in the wake of tech companies announcing AI investments, with more than 5,500 people laid off by the second week of January.

Both Amazon and Google announced they were laying off hundreds of workers last month, shortly after each separately confirmed they were investing millions of dollars into AI startup Anthropic.

Microsoft laid off about 10,000 employees a year ago, with another 2,000 jobs cut in its gaming unit last month while Discord – a messaging app used by gamers – cut 17 percent of its workforce.

Google’s layoffs swept across its advertising sales team while Amazon cut roles at Prime Video and MGM Studios.

‘As we’ve said, we’re responsibly investing in our company’s biggest priorities and the significant opportunities ahead,’ a Google spokesperson told

‘To best position us for these opportunities, throughout the second half of 2023, a number of our teams made changes to become more efficient and work better, and to align their resources to their biggest product priorities.’

Since May 2023, 4,600 jobs have been lost due to AI, with nearly 41,800 employees laid off across 159 tech companies so far this year, according to data by

The layoffs come despite Big Tech companies seeing a major increase in profits, with Google and Microsoft’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., reporting its shares jumped percent and is expected to grow its revenue by 12 percent for the first quarter of 2024.

Analysts at Mizuho Securities reported Google’s profits increased because it is in a ‘strong position in the search and advertising market and sustained history of innovation and AI investments.’

Google’s reported profit is the fastest rate of growth since Alphabet reported the loss of $13.6 billion in 2022

‘It can answer questions around Google-specific technologies, write code using internal tech stacks, and supports novel capabilities such as editing code based on natural language prompts,’ according to an internal summary.

Although the number of layoffs peaked in 2023, it is continuing into 2024, with Google reporting that more layoffs are coming this year

Although the number of layoffs directly attributed to AI this year remains relatively low, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, which reported that artificial intelligence was at fault for 381 job cuts in January, it is plausible that more job cuts are on the horizon.

The report said the majority of AI-related job cuts were because companies were focusing on developing AI technology, or because it directly replaced tasks and roles that employees previously handled.

This is not uncommon across big tech companies, many of which have shed jobs as part of cost-cutting measures to instead invest the money in AI talent and costly graphics processing unit (GPU) computer chips.

GPU chips focus on graphics rendering and numerical calculations to train AI software.

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