Duolingo employees lost their jobs due to AI, the company says they no longer need so many people

Duolingo laid off about 10 percent of its employees because it says it no longer needs so many employees.

by Vikash Kumawat
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Ever since AI (Artificial Intelligence) took center stage after the launch of ChatGPT, people have been worried about what the emerging technology could do to their jobs. While some experts believe that AI will enhance human jobs and allow them to focus on better tasks, others say that the emerging technology could completely replace humans at their workplaces. Last year, several studies were conducted regarding the effects of AI on human jobs and while some said that AI will change the way you work, others predicted job losses due to the technology.

And now, language-learning software company Duolingo Inc. is making headlines as it is one of the companies using generative artificial intelligence (AI) for content creation. The company recently announced it was laying off 10 percent of its contract employees, signaling a shift toward AI tools handling tasks traditionally done by human workers.

According to a Bloomberg report, a spokesperson for the company said that they no longer needed as many people to do the work that the fired contractors were doing and this could be partly attributed to AI.

“About 10 percent of the contractors have been laid off,” the spokesperson said. He added, “We no longer need as many people to do the kind of work that some of these contractors were doing. Part of that can be given over to AI.”

According to the report, Duolingo CEO Luis von Ahn revealed in a recent shareholder letter that the company is using generative AI to enable the rapid creation of text, speech, and images. This AI-powered approach, according to the report, allows the company to produce content like language-learning show scripts at an accelerated pace. The company has also integrated AI-generated voices into its app and introduced a premium tier, Duolingo Max, which includes AI-generated feedback and multilingual conversations.

As already mentioned, the move toward generative AI has sparked discussion and concerns among employee groups and unions about potential workforce cuts. A World Economic Forum report in April last year highlighted the “significant labour-market disruption” anticipated due to AI over the next five years.

Duolingo is not the only company that has announced layoffs due to AI. Chegg Inc, specializing in online homework-help services, announced a 4 percent reduction in its workforce in June 2023, emphasizing the integration of AI into tutoring services. Meanwhile, International Business Machines Corp CEO Arvind Krishna had said in May last year that the company expects to pause hiring for roles that AI could potentially replace in the coming years, with a focus on automating 30 percent of back-office jobs like human resources over a five-year period.

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