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Generative AI dominance: Amazon announces workforce reduction in Alexa division


Amazon is reducing its workforce in the division responsible for its widely used voice assistant Alexa as it redirects additional resources towards artificial intelligence, reported AP.

Reportedly, in a communication to staff on Friday, Daniel Rausch, Amazon’s vice president of Alexa and Fire TV, explained that specific positions are being eliminated due to the discontinuation of certain initiatives.

“As we continue to invent, we’re shifting some of our efforts to better align with our business priorities, and what we know matters most to customers — which includes maximizing our resources and efforts focused on generative AI,” wrote Rausch.

He mentioned that “several hundred” positions would be eliminated but refrained from specifying an exact number. 

Amazon, headquartered in Seattle, is engaged in intense competition with other tech firms striving to leverage the generative AI trend. Over the past few months, the company has been rolling out various AI initiatives, ranging from integrating the technology into customer reviews to offering services enabling developers to construct their own AI tools on its AWS cloud infrastructure.

In September, Amazon introduced a new version of Alexa, incorporating additional generative AI features. The layoffs disclosed on Friday will affect staff in the United States, Canada, and India.

This comes after recent job reductions in Amazon’s gaming and music divisions, contributing to the 27,000 employees the company let go in the latter part of last year and earlier this year. The Alexa unit at Amazon was also affected by those earlier layoffs.

The cuts to Amazon Music began in October, when the division eliminated communications roles, and are distinct from the earlier layoffs, according to another person familiar with the matter.

The reductions in Amazon’s music division signaled an increasing shift of focus to another streaming platform: Prime Video. “We also have increasing conviction that Prime Video can be a large and profitable business in its own right as we continue to invest in compelling exclusive content for Prime members,” Jassy said last month during Amazon’s third-quarter earnings call.

(With inputs from AP)

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Updated: 18 Nov 2023, 01:04 PM IST

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