According to persons familiar with the situation, Apple Inc. is closing a 121-person team that is involved in artificial intelligence operations in San Diego, putting many employees at risk of losing their jobs. The people, who wished to remain anonymous because the intentions were undisclosed, claimed that the group, known as Data Operations Annotations, was informed on Wednesday that they would be moving to Austin in order to join with the Texas division of the same company.
According to the persons, Apple informed staff members that they have until the end of February to determine whether to relocate. On April 26, the employees will be let go if they don’t. The team, which also includes operations in China, India, Ireland, and Spain, is in charge of making Siri better by listening to voice service inquiries and assessing how well the system understood and responded to them. According to the people, Apple AI CEO John Giannandrea’s top deputy, Christine DeFilippo, announced the group’s closure in San Diego.
The company is bringing its “Data Operations Annotations teams in the US together at our campus in Austin, where a majority of the team is already based,” according to an Apple spokeswoman, who confirmed the relocation decision. “Everyone currently employed will have the opportunity to continue their role with Apple in Austin,” she continued. Along with stating that it has “grown significantly” in San Diego, the business stated it is “deeply committed” to the area and that it will keep hiring as Apple grows its technical teams. Apple maintains a single office for all of its employees in the other countries where the impacted team works.
The move caught the San Diego crew off guard. The insiders said that the AI team has been operating out of an office that Apple has been renting. However, the business had just informed employees that they will be moving to a new Apple campus in the neighborhood by the end of January. Apple sent out packing boxes to staff members earlier this month in anticipation of a move within the city.
They will now have to relocate to Texas instead. According to people with knowledge of the situation, most impacted employees have said they would not like to move to Austin. This information was provided to Bloomberg.
Apple informed staff members that they could apply for other positions, but according to the people, they don’t think their lack of engineering experience will make them qualified for many roles. The San Diego personnel concentrated on Siri use in Hebrew, English, several dialects of Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic and French.
A number of dozen employees may leave the organization as a result of the transfer. Unlike most of its tech competitors, Apple, which employed 161,000 people as of September, has mostly avoided layoffs since the outbreak. However, it did fire recruiters and slashed a number of corporate retail roles in April of last year.
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