Google, Microsoft tech layoffs are quickening the robot revolution

Google, Microsoft tech layoffs are quickening the robot revolution

The robot revolution appears to be in full swing. 

Google is just the latest company to announce major job cuts said to align with its prioritization of artificial intelligence

Industries far and wide are pivoting to AI, which — shameless plug — you may have anticipated if you read my end-of-year ReidOut Blog post on 2023 being an important year for the development of artificial intelligence technology.

In a Friday blog post titled “A difficult decision to set us up for the future,” Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google parent Alphabet Inc., announced that the company is cutting approximately 12,000 positions to better capitalize on Google’s “early investments in AI” and to pursue the “substantial opportunity in front of us with AI across our products.” This, Pichai said, will include soon sharing “entirely new experiences for users, developers and businesses.”

Microsoft also announced massive layoffs this week, with CEO Satya Nadella calling artificial intelligence “the next major wave of computing” and speaking of a need to “deliver results on an ongoing basis, while investing in our long-term opportunity.”

The New York Times reported that Microsoft is considering investing an additional $10 billion in its OpenAI company, which is known for creating the communicative robot ChatGPT. And the Times also noted that Microsoft is in the process of acquiring Activision, a gaming platform that Nadella has said could factor heavily in its AI plans.

And we can’t forget Facebook. In November, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that more than 11,000 jobs had been cut as the company shifted resources to its AI-powered search engine, its advertising and business platforms, and metaverse efforts such as Reality Labs, which is intensely focused on projects that use AI.

We’re rapidly hurtling toward a world of heightened dependence on algorithm-driven robots without full understanding of the economic impact, let alone the societal one.

The job displacement we’ve seen from these companies is only the beginning of an artificial intelligence revolution that will eventually spur a sea change in how labor is performed and who gets compensated for that labor. 

Let this wave of AI-focused tech layoffs be an obvious reminder that there are downsides to the rapid technologization of our world — especially if these technologies rely on artificial intelligence software that often helps harden human biases and inequality

We’re rapidly hurtling toward a world of heightened dependence on algorithm-driven robots without full understanding of the economic impact, let alone the societal one.

P.S. If discussing the potential for a high-tech dystopia interests you, I recommend this Vice post on tech outlet CNET trying — and failing — to successfully incorporate an “artificial intelligence blogger.”

Stay safe and stay sane out there, my friends.

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