Jo Constantz of Bloomberg reports that US firms have announced 4,600 job cuts related to artificial intelligence since May. Constantz writes:
United Parcel Service Inc.’s largest layoffs in its 116-year history were made possible, in part, by new technologies including artificial intelligence, CEO Carol Tomé said last week. Citing one example, she said that machine learning allows salespeople to put together proposals without having to ask pricing experts for guidance.
UPS is among a growing number of companies facing an AI two-step of sorts: Showing investors how AI helps do more with less while simultaneously avoiding the fear-mongering that comes with directly linking technology with job cuts. A UPS spokesperson later said AI is not replacing workers, and that executives did not make an explicit connection between AI and the permanent layoffs on the company’s earnings call. […]
In the tech industry, some top executives have warned AI could eliminate certain jobs, with Elon Musk going so far as to say, “There will come a point where no job is needed.” But for the companies currently introducing AI to workers, there’s often a more positive spin.
“The big thing you’ll hear companies say is they’re not focused on elimination, but augmentation — trying to make people more effective and efficient,” Challenger said. “But clearly there are a lot of scenarios right now where one person could do the work of four or five people with the help of AI in a way they couldn’t a year ago. That’s playing out on the ground even if we’re not hearing about it in big announcements from organizations.”
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Where Thousands Of Tech Workers Went After Mass Layoffs
Tech companies shed more than 386,000 jobs, and that number is climbing.