Google Assistant AI Update Could Lead to Layoffs

Leaked internal emails reveal more Google layoffs and plans to integrate ChatGPT-style generative AI in its Assistant.

Next up on the AI conveyor belt… it’s the Google Assistant, which you’ll find integrated into your smart devices, wearables, speakers and even in your car, and is about to get “supercharged” with AI.

The plans, revealed in leaked internal Google emails obtained by Axios yesterday, could also lead to layoffs within the Assistant team, as it is restructured to focus on AI.

This latest move to pivot to developing their use of AI even further will hope to steady investor confidence and expedite the development of the Google LLM (Large Language Model) to get it fit for integration in Google Search.

Google’s Bid to Catch Up With AI

The internal email, seen by Axios, is reported to say that the Assistant team leads have identified opportunities a ‘supercharged' Google Assistant, fueled by AI.

The email doesn’t go into details about the exact possibilities of what the new Google Assistant team hope to achieve but from what we already know of generative AI, the possibilities are pretty expansive.

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The Assistant will be able to draw on information from across the web in its answers, just like LLMs’ ChatGPT or their very own Bard. Services like Alexa, Siri and the Assistant have long been able to answer a straightforward question, but the integration of AI will make the answers much more meaningful. Drawing on experience and context as well as black and white information, and their ability to follow a thread of conversation rather than deal with one query in isolation will make the experience far more human-like.

Peeyush Ranjan, the Vice President of Google Assistant, and Duke Dukellis, the company’s product director, purportedly said in the email, “we remain deeply committed to Assistant and we are optimistic about its bright future ahead.”

It’s unclear when generative AI will be integrated into Google’s smart home products and for now at least, it’s probably best that way. With public skepticism over privacy issues and accusations of fraudulent ads, there’s likely still a few details for the tech giant to iron out on that front.

More Google Layoffs?

In the email, Axios reports that Google says reorganizing the Google Assistant team will help them to refocus on generative AI, including a “small number of layoffs”.

The exact number of layoffs is unknown however the Axios report claims the Google email mentions “dozens” of layoffs in the Google Assistant team which is currently made up of thousands. This figure adds to the existing count, the Google parent company, Alphabet, already announced earlier this year of 12,000 employees, cutting 6% of the total workforce

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Written by:
Abby Ward is a contributor at Tech.co and freelance search engine marketing (SEM) specialist. Since graduating from Kingston University London in 2015 with Bachelor's degree in Journalism with French, she has worked in many areas of digital marketing including website management, SEO, and paid media. Her specialist topics span her professional and personal interests in search social media, ad-tech, education, food & beverage, hospitality, and business.
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