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Amazon lays off hundreds in its Alexa division

NEW YORK (AP) – Amazon is cutting hundreds of jobs in the unit that handles its popular voice assistant Alexa as it ploughs more resources into artificial intelligence (AI).

In a note to employees on Friday, Amazon’s vice president of Alexa and Fire TV Daniel Rausch wrote that the company is eliminating certain roles because it is ditching some initiatives.

“As we continue to invent, we’re shifting some of our efforts to better align with our business priorities, and what we know matters most to customers – which includes maximising our resources and efforts focused on generative AI,” Rausch wrote.

He said “several hundred” positions would be cut but did not give a more precise figure.

Seattle-based Amazon is in fierce competition with other tech companies rushing to capitalise on the generative AI craze. The company has been implementing a host of AI initiatives in the past few months, from infusing the technology into customer reviews to providing services that allow developers to build their own AI tools on its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud infrastructure.

In September, Amazon unveiled an update to Alexa that infuses it with more generative AI features.

The job cuts announced on Friday will impact employees in the United States, Canada and India.

Amazon Echo and Echo Plus devices sit near illuminated Echo Button devices. PHOTO: AP