Google Axes 12,000 Jobs, Layoffs Spread Across Tech Sector
LONDON, England — Google is laying off 12,000 workers, or about 6% of its workforce, becoming the latest tech company to cut staff as the industry’s economic boom during the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end.
The CEO of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, Sundar Pichai, sent an email to employees on Friday telling them about the layoffs. The email was posted on the company’s news blog.
It is the biggest round of layoffs the company has ever had, and it joins tens of thousands of other job cuts recently announced by Microsoft, Amazon, the parent company of Facebook, Meta, and other tech companies as they try to save money in the face of a bad outlook for the industry. Major corporations announced at least 48,000 job cuts this month.
“We’ve seen periods of dramatic growth over the last two years,” Pichai wrote. “We hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today to match and fuel that growth.” google
Layoffs Started After A Review
He stated that the layoffs result from a “rigorous review” of Google’s operations.
The job cuts “cut across Alphabet, product areas, functions, levels, and regions,” according to Pichai. He expressed “deep regret” for the layoffs.
Regulatory filings show how Google’s workforce grew during the pandemic, reaching nearly 187,000 late last year, up from 119,000 at the end of 2019.
Google, founded nearly a quarter-century ago, is “bound to go through difficult economic cycles,” according to Pichai.
“These are critical times for us to sharpen our focus, re-engineer our cost structure, and direct our talent and capital to our highest priorities,” he wrote. He identified the company’s investments in artificial intelligence as a potential growth area.
Googles Ad Revenue Is Down
According to Pichai’s letter, job cuts will be in the United States and other unspecified countries.
According to Victoria Scholar, an analyst with U.K.-based Interactive Investment, tech companies that “not long ago were the darlings of the stock market” have been forced to freeze hiring and cut jobs in preparation for an economic downturn.
“Digital spending is down, and ad revenue is down with it,” she wrote.
Microsoft recently announced 10,000 job cuts, accounting for nearly 5% of its workforce. Amazon announced this month that it is laying off 18,000 employees, a fraction of its 1.5 million-person workforce, while business software maker Salesforce is laying off 8,000 employees, or 10% of the total. Last fall, Meta, Facebook’s parent company, announced the elimination of 11,000 jobs, or 13% of its workforce. Elon Musk cut jobs at Twitter after acquiring the social media company last fall.
Smaller companies are also feeling the effects of job cuts. Sophos, a cybersecurity firm based in the United Kingdom, laid off 450 employees, accounting for 10% of its global workforce. Coinbase, a cryptocurrency trading platform, laid off 20% of its workforce, or approximately 950 employees, in its second round of layoffs in less than a year.
The Economy Is Dropping
Even though the economy is slowing, the United States has kept adding jobs. In December, 223,000 more jobs were added. However, the technology sector has grown extremely quickly in recent years due to increased demand as employees began to work remotely.
CEOs of several companies have been blamed for expanding too quickly, yet those same companies, even after the latest round of job cuts, are still much larger than before the pandemic’s economic boom began.
“I accept complete responsibility for the decisions that brought us here,” Pichai wrote.
While the number of tech layoffs is “shocking,” the impact on tech industry employment is “nowhere near as bad as it appears,” according to John Blevins, an adjunct professor at Cornell University’s business school.
“These laid-off workers will easily find new jobs,” Blevins predicted, most likely at smaller tech firms. “They’re coming with impressive credentials from these large firms. That knowledge will be passed on and used to everyone’s advantage.”
In their announcements of layoffs, both Pichai and Microsoft and google CEO Satya Nadella stressed how important it was to make the most of their advances in artificial intelligence technology. This reflects the fact that Microsoft’s growing partnership with the San Francisco startup OpenAI has sparked a new round of competition between the two tech giants.
SOURCE – (AP)
Some ‘Diablo IV’ Players Report Invalid License Error Message After Early Access Launch
Washington, D.C. The highly anticipated action role-playing video game “Diablo IV” launched its early access on Thursday night. However, there were some delays, particularly for PlayStation players.
While many players who pre-purchased eligible “Diablo IV” editions experienced no problems with the early access launch, some PS5 users reported getting an invalid licensing error message. After initially stating that a server-side balance update had been implemented, Blizzard acknowledged the problem.
A software upgrade known as a hotfix focuses on a single problem and normally does not cause service interruptions.
The most recent game in the Blizzard “Diablo” series, which debuted in 1996, is titled “Diablo IV” and was released in May 2012. This is more than ten years after “Diablo III”‘s debut. Although the game’s early access began on Thursday, the launch is set for the following week.
Diablo’s general manager, Rod Fergusson, referred to “Diablo IV” as “our most brutal vision of Sanctuary,” the make-believe setting for the game. He continued, saying that it incorporates “the darkness of the original game” and expands on significant elements from other games in the franchise.
Activision Blizzard, the parent business of Blizzard Entertainment, announced in April that its net sales for the first quarter of 2023 increased to $2.38 billion from $1.77 billion. Activision reported that “Diablo IV” presales were robust, indicating that the game had undergone successful public testing.
What you need to know about “Diablo IV’s” upcoming official release and early access launch on Thursday is provided here.
WHEN DOES DIABLO IV COMMENCE?
Depending on your local time zone, “Diablo IV” will be formally published on Tuesday or Wednesday next week. The game will begin in the United States on Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT).
Although “Diablo IV” is set to be on sale next week, early access started a few days earlier, on either Thursday or Friday, depending on where you are. Players who pre-purchased the game’s digital deluxe or ultimate edition were expected to have early access.
Additionally, some devices allow players who have previously purchased “Diablo IV” to pre-load the game. According to Blizzard, pre-loading is possible for Windows PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.
DIABLO IV “UNABLE TO FIND LICENCE”?
Although early access appeared to open without incident for the majority of gamers, some PS5 users reported receiving an error message that stated, “unable to find a valid licence for Diablo IV,” according to posts on Blizzard’s community forums and social media. Players on the PS5 appeared to be the ones most affected by the problem, but some other users said they also received the notice on Xbox and other platforms.
In a forum post late Thursday night, Blizzard recognized the PlayStation customers’ complaints. Adam Fletcher, director of global community development, later claimed that “Diablo IV” had received a server-side balance update implemented across all platforms.
How many early access players were affected by the problem is unknown. On Blizzard’s forum, some angry customers reported that they were still having access issues as of Friday morning.
The Associated Press requested statements from Blizzard and PlayStation on Friday morning.
WHAT CLASSES DO DIABLO IV CHARACTERS FALL INTO?
“Diablo IV” reportedly takes place decades after the events of “Diablo III: Reaper of Souls.” The angel Inarius and the demon Lilith have started a battle and are at odds.
In “Diablo IV,” players can choose from one of five classes: Druids, Rogues, Sorceresses, Barbarians, or Necromancers.
At launch, “Diablo IV” will support couch co-op and cross-platform play on Windows PC, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PlayStation 5, and PlayStation 4, among other platforms.
Financial results for Activation for 2022, Microsoft Deal
In 2022, Activision, the company behind “Call of Duty,” “Candy Crush,” and “World of Warcraft,” recorded net revenues of $7.53 billion, a decrease from the $8.8 billion reported in 2021.
Microsoft revealed plans to buy Activision in January 2022, but the historic transaction is doubtful more than a year later. Last month, the European Union authorized the $69 billion purchase, but British regulators halted it due to concerns about competition. Authorities in the US are also attempting to block the merger.
Regulators worldwide have scrutinized the agreement because of concern that it will give Microsoft and its Xbox platform control of popular s. PlayStation maker rival Sony has led a ferocious opposition.
Activision and Microsoft have appealed to a tribunal about the U.K. ruling. Liam Deane, a gaming industry analyst at digital research and consultancy firm Omdia, previously told The Associated Press that if the appeal is unsuccessful, Microsoft would be compelled to either cancel the arrangement or carve out the U.K. as a distinct market, which appeared to be an impractical choice.
SOURCE – (AP)
Amazon To Pay $31 Million In Privacy Violation Penalties For Alexa Voice Assistant And Ring Camera
Washington, D.C. Amazon has agreed to settle charges from the Federal Trade Commission that it violated a statute protecting children’s privacy and misled parents by retaining for years the voice and location data of children recorded by its well-known Alexa voice assistant by paying a $25 million civil penalty.
In a separate agreement, the business acknowledged that its doorbell camera Ring may have violated customers’ privacy and agreed to pay them $5.8 million in refunds.
The Alexa-related action requires Amazon to revise its data deletion procedures and implement tougher, more lucid privacy controls. Additionally, it requires the tech giant to remove certain information gathered by its web-connected personal assistant, which users use to do everything from playing games and queueing up music to checking the weather.
Samuel Levine, the FCT’s director of consumer protection, said in a statement that Amazon’s history of misleading parents, retaining children’s recordings indefinitely, and disobeying deletion orders infringed on COPPA (the Child Online Privacy Protection Act) and compromised privacy for money. The 1998 law was created to protect kids from the dangers of the internet.
According to a statement by FTC Commissioner Alvaro Bedoya, “when parents asked Amazon to delete their kids’ Alexa voice data, the company did not delete all of it.”
The organization mandated that specific voice and geolocation data, as well as dormant child accounts, be deleted by the corporation.
Amazon has agreed to settle charges from the Federal Trade Commission that it violated a statute protecting children’s privacy.
According to Bedoya, Amazon stored the children’s data to improve the voice recognition algorithm that powers Alexa, the artificial intelligence that runs Echo and other smart speakers. According to him, the FTC case sends a message to other tech firms that are “sprinting to do the same” in the face of intense competition when creating AI datasets.
The father of two young children, Bedoya, stated on Twitter that “nothing is more visceral to a parent than the sound of their child’s voice.”
More than half a billion Alexa-enabled gadgets have been sold internationally, according to Amazon, which also said that usage of the service rose 35% in 2016.
According to the FTC, in the Ring case, Amazon’s subsidiary for home security cameras gave employees and contractors access to customers’ private recordings and used insufficient security procedures that enabled hackers to take over certain accounts.
Many of the FTC’s claims of violations against California-based Ring’s operations date before Amazon’s 2018 acquisition of the company. The ring is compelled by the FTC’s decision to pay $5.8 million, which will be used for consumer refunds.
Amazon denied breaking the law and disagreed with the FTC’s allegations on Alexa and Ring. Nevertheless, it stated that the agreements “put these matters behind us.”
The Seattle-based business claimed that its “devices and services are built to protect customers’ privacy and to give customers control over their experience.”
The proposed order forbids Amazon from using deleted voice and geolocation data to develop or enhance any data products, in addition to the penalty in the Alexa case. Amazon must also develop a privacy program for using geolocation data by the court’s judgment.
Federal judges must approve the proposed orders.
The FTC commissioners unanimously made the decision to charge Amazon in both cases.
SOURCE – (AP)
Regulators Take Aim At AI To Protect Consumers And Workers
NEW YORK — The nation’s finance authority has pledged to ensure that businesses comply with the Regulators law when utilizing artificial intelligence in light of rising concerns over increasingly capable AI systems like ChatGPT.
Automated systems and algorithms already heavily influence credit scores, loan conditions, bank account fees, and other monetary factors. Human resources, real estate, and working conditions are all impacted by AI.
According to Electronic Privacy Information Centre Senior Counsel Ben Winters Regulators, the federal agencies’ joint statement on enforcement released last month was a good starting step.
However, “there’s this narrative that AI is entirely unregulated, which is not really true,” he argued. “What they’re arguing is, ‘Just because you utilise AI to make a judgement, it doesn’t mean you’re exempt from responsibility for the repercussions of that decision. This is how we feel about it. “We are watching.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued fines to financial institutions in the past year for using new technology and flawed algorithms, leading to improper foreclosures, repossessions, and lost payments of homes, cars, and government benefits payments.
These enforcement proceedings are used as instances of how there will be no “AI exemptions” to consumer protection, according to regulators.
Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Rohit Chopra stated that the organization is “continuing to identify potentially illegal activity” and has “already started some work to continue to muscle up internally when it comes to bringing on board data scientists, technologists, and others to make sure we can confront these challenges.”
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) joins the Federal Trade Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Department of Justice, and others in claiming they are allocating resources and personnel to target emerging technologies and expose their potentially detrimental effects on consumers.
Chopra emphasized the importance of organizations understanding the decision-making process of their AI systems before implementing them. “In other cases, we are looking at how the use of all this data complies with our fair lending laws and Regulators.”
Financial institutions are required to report reasons for negative credit decisions by law, per the Fair Credit Regulators Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, for instance. Decisions about housing and work are also subject to these rules. Regulators have warned against using AI systems whose decision-making processes are too complex to explain.
Chopra speculated, “I think there was a sense that, ‘Oh, let’s just give it to the robots and there will be no more discrimination,'” I think what we’ve learned is that that’s not the case. The data itself may contain inherent biases.
Regulators have warned against using AI systems whose decision-making processes are too complex to explain.
Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Charlotte Burrows has pledged enforcement action against artificial intelligence (AI) Regulators recruiting technology that discriminates against people with disabilities and so-called “bossware” that illegally monitors employees.
Burrows also discussed the potential for algorithms to dictate illegal working conditions and hours to people.
She then added, “You need a break if you have a disability or perhaps you’re pregnant.” The algorithm only sometimes accounts for that kind of modification. Those are the sorts of things we’re taking a careful look at… The underlying message here is that laws still apply, and we have resources to enforce them; I don’t want anyone to misunderstand that just because technology is changing.
At a conference earlier this month, OpenAI’s top lawyer advocated for an industry-led approach to regulation.
OpenAI’s general counsel, Jason Kwon, recently spoke at a technology summit in Washington, DC, held by software industry group BSA. Industry standards and a consensus on them would be a good place to start. More debate is warranted about whether these should be mandated and how often they should be revised.
At a conference earlier this month, OpenAI’s top lawyer advocated for an industry-led approach to regulation.
The CEO of OpenAI, the company responsible for creating ChatGPT, Sam Altman, recently stated that government action “will be critical to mitigate the risks of increasingly powerful” AI systems and advocated for establishing a U.S. or global body to license and regulate the technology.
Altman and other tech CEOs were invited to the White House this month to confront tough questions about the consequences of these tools, even though there is no indication that Congress would draught sweeping new AI legislation like European politicians are doing.
As they have in the past with new consumer financial products and technologies, the agencies could do more to study and publish information on the relevant AI markets, how the industry is working, who the biggest players are, and how the information collected is being used, according to Winters of the Electronic Privacy Information Centre.
He said that “Buy Now, Pay Later” businesses had been dealt with effectively by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. “The AI ecosystem has a great deal of undiscovered territory. Putting that knowledge out there would help.
SOURCE – (AP)
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