Google is laying off hundreds of people working on its voice-activated Google Assistant software and eliminating a similar number of roles on its knowledge and information product teams, a Google spokesperson confirmed to Semafor on Wednesday.
Google told Semafor the restructuring would help improve Google Assistant as it explores integrating newer artificial intelligence technology into its products. The company announced in October that it was using its generative AI chatbot Bard to build a new version of Google Assistant that “extends beyond voice, understands and adapts to you and handles personal tasks in new ways.”
Google has been making periodic job cuts over the past year, including in its recruiting and news divisions, but it has not conducted company-wide layoffs since last January, when it eliminated approximately 12,000 roles. Its parent Alphabet reported having over 180,000 employees as of September 2023.
Google Assistant debuted in 2016 to compete with Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri, and together, the three voice assistants defined the first wave of mainstream question-and-answer products powered by artificial intelligence.
Over the past year, large language models — the tech behind OpenAI’s ChatGPT and similar tools — have transformed the market, and tech giants are now figuring out the best ways to integrate them into existing product lines.