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AI is moving into big tech jobs, but not in the way you think

AI is moving into big tech jobs, but not in the way you think


Google is also pouring money into AI for Humanity development, with CEO Syndrome Pichai warning of continued cuts throughout 2024, which began in January. This comes despite Google reporting strong growth. “We are investing responsibly in the company's biggest priorities and the great opportunities ahead,” said Google spokesperson Bailey Thomson. In 2023 and 2024, Thomson said, several Google teams have made changes to improve efficiency and enable them to work more efficiently. This has simplified structures, giving employees more opportunities to work on the most innovative and important advancements and the company's biggest priorities, and reducing bureaucracy and hierarchies.

This narrative of pivoting to AI is reminiscent of past moves by tech companies that have led to poor working conditions for contract workers in other countries, such as outsourcing workers. “I don't feel like there's a real connection between the investments in AI and the tradeoffs they have to make with the rest of the workforce, but rather this is a narrative shift that's being used to bracket changes that happened before the shift to AI,” said Parul Cole, president of the Alphabet Workers Union (CWA), which represents some of the companies' employees affected by recent layoffs. But it remains difficult to directly link some of the job cuts to technology, Cole said, because workers haven't received enough transparency about whether the layoffs are AI-related.

Naturally, the next step would be for the AI ​​these companies are investing in to further disrupt their workplaces. But for now, that doesn't seem to be happening. AI-related layoffs account for a small portion of job cuts across the industry. More than 5,000 jobs will be cut between May 2023 and April 2024, with companies citing AI as the reason, either because companies have shifted their focus to developing AI technologies or because they have used AI tools to take over tasks and roles, according to a report from recruitment services firm Challenger, Gray, and Christmas.

The tech industry alone is expected to see nearly 100,000 layoffs in 2024, according to, a site that tracks tech job cuts. Still, certain types of jobs are starting to bounce back. Job postings for AI-related jobs or jobs requiring AI skills made up 12% of all tech job postings in May, the highest percentage in six years, according to CompTIA, a nonprofit trade group for the U.S. IT industry. But AI doesn't exist in a vacuum, and its adoption will likely create related jobs needed to support the new technology, says Tim Herbert, CompTIA's chief research officer. AI will likely spur investment in other areas, he says.

While the AI ​​restructuring may not be a big AI ride, if AI is the next big thing for a company like Alphabet, Cole says the lack of efforts to upskill and train employees in that department is problematic. There are ways to keep existing employees on board or treat them with dignity and respect through this process, Cole says. “Many of my colleagues and union members work here with a sense of mission and believe in the value of the products we work on. We would really appreciate more opportunities for retraining or moving to other departments.




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