The technology sector is pouring billions of dollars into AI.But it keeps firing humans

Written by Katherine Sobeck | CNN

The technology industry began the new year with a wave of new layoffs while doubling its investment in artificial intelligence.

AI tools displacing workers has been a major concern in Silicon Valley and beyond over the past year, but all of the recent layoffs in the tech industry show that AI tools will simply replace workers. It is not directly connected to.

However, many of the recent layoff announcements have come on the heels of the same companies revealing major investments in AI technology in an effort to reallocate resources, and high-tech companies explicitly citing AI as the reason for the layoffs The number of companies is increasing.

Continued labor unrest in the very industries that produce AI suggests further unrest is to come as the technology is predicted to reshape the broader business landscape in the coming years. there is a possibility.

More than 5,500 tech layoffs within two weeks of 2024

The latest technology layoffs are happening across a wide range of roles at both large tech companies and small startups.

Tech giants Google and Amazon announced significant layoffs this week, affecting hundreds of employees across various business units. News of layoffs at Google and Amazon comes months after the companies separately announced multibillion-dollar investments in AI startup Anthropic.

Also this week, social platform Discord announced it would cut 17% of its staff. Unity Software, which develops the technology used in popular mobile games such as Pokemon Go, has announced it will cut 25% of its workforce. Additionally, language learning app Duolingo announced that it has laid off about 10% of its contract employees.

In total, more than 5,500 tech workers lost their jobs within two weeks of 2024, according to data compiled by

And the latest technology cuts come after an extremely painful two years for the industry, with hundreds of thousands of workers losing their jobs amid a pandemic-induced demand reset.

According to data from, around 262,682 job cuts were recorded in the technology industry in 2023, following 164,969 job cuts in the previous year.

Anxiety about AI takes root, pandemic demand recedes

Startup founder Roger Lee, who has been tracking layoffs in the tech industry for years through his website, told CNN that many tech companies are still “correcting overhiring during the pandemic surge.” He said he was trying.

The outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic forced people around the world to work, socialize, and shop from home, leading to a surge in demand for digital services. Against this backdrop, the technology industry continued to see a remarkable hiring rush. But in the ensuing years, as pandemic restrictions eased and broader macroeconomic uncertainty grew, the tech industry experienced its biggest setback since the dot-com bust of 2000, with tens of thousands of jobs lost in rapid succession. reduced.

Lee added that while the high interest rate environment and technology downturn have persisted for longer than originally expected, “more technology companies are citing AI as a reason for layoffs.”

Last year, companies like Chegg, IBM, and Dropbox cited the emergence of AI as a reason to rethink staffing. Duolingo and even Google have recently proposed the same thing in an attempt to capitalize on the AI ​​boom and mobilize resources.

Although the full extent of AI’s impact on the labor market is not yet clear, researchers believe that while the technology has the potential to create new and different jobs in the future, it also has the potential to create hundreds of millions of jobs worldwide. It says jobs may be affected.

Economists at Goldman Sachs said in a research note last March that the rise of generative AI technology could eliminate or reduce up to 300 million full-time jobs worldwide, with white-collar jobs most at risk. He said he felt exposed. Other research also shows that women’s jobs may be disproportionately affected by corporate adoption of AI in the coming years.

The various impacts of technology sector layoffs will be scrutinized

As tech industry layoffs continue, labor advocates and even lawmakers are taking notice.

Parul Kour, a Google software engineer and president of the Grassroots Alphabet Union, an affiliate of the CWA that organizes workers, said Google employees who lost their jobs this week were notified by email that they had been fired. He was shocked to find out. Across Google’s parent company, Alphabet.

In a statement to CNN on Friday, Cole denounced “corporate greed” and called the layoffs “unnecessary and counterproductive.”

“Layoffs create chaos and instability in the workplace, forcing workers to make do with less,” Cole added, adding that even those who remain on the job “feel like they’re going to be next.” I work with constant anxiety that this may not happen.”

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