Unexpectedly, Apple chose to close its 121-person Data Operations Annotations team in San Diego, which was in charge of developing the business’s artificial intelligence operations. The team, which focused mostly on improving Siri through voice service inquiries, has been told to move to Austin and combine with the organization’s Texas division.
The team, which was made up of contractors at first who would listen to Siri requests, switched to full-time staff in 2019 when the listening technique was made optional for users. The San Diego group covered a wide range of languages, including Portuguese, Arabic, French, Hebrew, English, and other Spanish dialects. According to Bloomberg sources that Apple later confirmed, a senior subordinate to AI chief John Giannandrea announced the relocation.
The move, according to an Apple representative, is intended to “bring together our Data Operations Annotations teams in the US at our campus in Austin, where a majority of the team is already based.” She promised that all of the present staff members will be able to stay on at Apple in Austin in their current positions. The hitch is that San Diego workers must choose whether to relocate by the end of February; those who choose not to do so risk being fired on April 26.
Even while Apple has stated that it is committed to San Diego, where the firm has experienced significant growth, many employees were taken away by the AI team’s move to Austin. They now face moving to Texas by the end of January, counter to earlier reports that they will be moved to a new Apple facility in the area.
Many of the impacted employees have expressed their unwillingness to move to Austin, citing worries that their lack of engineering experience may prevent them from being hired. Although Apple has let staff members know that they can apply for other jobs, details on future job opportunities are still unclear.
Apple is providing a $7,000 relocation stipend to staff members who decide to move to Austin by the end of June in order to facilitate the transfer. In addition to receiving six months of health insurance and severance money based on their years of employment, those who reject the offer will have their roles eliminated.
Apple had escaped layoffs until recently, in contrast to other IT businesses that struggled with them during the pandemic. Although some corporate retail positions and recruiters were eliminated in April of last year, the tech giant may lose some staff members as a result of the new decision about the AI team.
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