'Hey, Google' Gets An AI Makeover - With Layoffs

Google’s virtual assistant reportedly will get a makeover by integrating artificial intelligence (AI) technologies into the platform similar to its Bard chatbot.

The updates will change the way Assistant works. For now, the company will support both old and new approaches, according to Axios, based on an internal email sent to employees Monday.

The idea is to fulfill a “huge opportunity to explore what a supercharged Assistant, powered by the latest [large language model] technology, would look like,” per the letter.

The update, which has already begun, began with the mobile app.

As part of the change, Google will reorganize the teams working on Assistant, which means a small number of layoffs and eliminating dozens of jobs out of the thousands who work on Assistant.

Those who have been laid off will have a minimum of 60 days to search internally for another position, per the letter which also stated reporting structure changes.  

For example, Google will combine the Services and Surfaces teams, which will be led by Unni and Bryant. The Mobile team will operate separately under Minni and Zaheed. Xiaonan and Lisa will lead the natural language processing team. Michelle will lead the infrastructure team.

The team dedicated to speech will continue supporting Assistant and other products, with Françoise reporting to Sissie.

Amazon -- which continues to infuse all its products with generative AI -- also is working to integrate AI into Alexa. The company reportedly will announce the integration into new devices at a September event.

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