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  • Writer's pictureSarah Ruivivar

Amazon's Alexa Unit Trims Jobs, Shifts Focus to Generative AI

Image credits: REUTERS is making significant changes, announcing job cuts at its Alexa voice assistant unit.

The decision, affecting several hundred employees, is driven by shifting business priorities and a greater focus on generative artificial intelligence (AI).

"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," said Daniel Rausch, vice president of Alexa and Fire TV.

Amazon's decision comes amid a series of cutbacks across various divisions this month, including music, gaming, and some human resources roles. The move reflects the growing trend among companies to invest in generative AI, capable of creating software code and providing comprehensive text responses from brief prompts.

However, the decision has raised concerns about the future of Alexa, a voice assistant used for setting timers, asking search queries, playing music, and home automation. Critics argue that Alexa has failed to keep pace in the age of generative AI.

Despite these concerns, Rausch remains optimistic about Alexa's future. "Incorporating a new large language model into a voice-forward, personal AI, has been and continues to be an enormous scientific and engineering challenge," he wrote.

The job cuts come at a time when Amazon reported third-quarter net income that exceeded analyst estimates and forecasted revenue for the year's final quarter roughly in line with expectations. Despite this, Amazon has cut more than 27,000 jobs across the company over the past year, reflecting a broader trend of tech layoffs after the industry's heavy hiring during the pandemic.

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