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Amazon Lays off Hundreds in its Alexa Division as it Plows Resources into AI

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File
Amazon Echo and Echo Plus devices, behind, sit near illuminated Echo Button devices during an event announcing several new Amazon products by the company, Sept. 27, 2017, in Seattle.

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is cutting hundreds of jobs in the unit that handles its popular voice assistant Alexa as it plows more resources into artificial intelligence.

In a note to employees on Friday, Daniel Rausch, Amazon’s vice president of Alexa and Fire TV, wrote that the company is eliminating certain roles because it is ditching some 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,” Rausch wrote.

He said “several hundred” positions would be cut but did not give a more precise figure.

Seattle-based Amazon is in fierce competition with other tech companies rushing to capitalize on the generative AI craze. The company has been implementing a host of AI initiatives in the past few months, from infusing the technology into customer reviews to providing services that allow developers to build their own AI tools on its AWS cloud infrastructure.

In September, Amazon unveiled an update to Alexa that infuses it with more generative AI features.

The job cuts announced on Friday will impact employees in the U.S., Canada and India.

It follows more recent layoffs in Amazon’s gaming and music teams, and also adds to the 27,000 employees the company laid off during the later parts of last year and earlier this year. Amazon’s Alexa unit was also impacted by those cuts.