Apple to Shut Down AI Team in San Diego

K. C. Sabreena Basheer 15 Jan, 2024 • 3 min read

In an unexpected turn of events, tech giant Apple has announced the shutdown of its Data Operations Annotations team in San Diego, sending shockwaves through the AI community. With 121 employees facing a tough choice between relocation and potential job loss, the decision comes as part of a broader reorganization within the company. Let’s delve into the details and the implications for both Apple and its workforce.

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The Surprising Decision

Apple’s Data Operations Annotations team, responsible for advancing Siri’s capabilities through voice service queries, is set to be disbanded. The team’s 121 employees in San Diego received the surprising news that they are expected to relocate to Austin and merge with the Texas branch of the same team. This unexpected relocation directive has caught many off guard.

Apple to Shut Down 121-Member AI Team in San Diego

Employee Dilemma

Employees in San Diego have until the end of February to make a pivotal decision – either relocate to Austin or face termination on April 26. Despite Apple’s assurance that all current employees will have the opportunity to continue their roles in Austin, the relocation has sparked concerns among the workforce. Many are reluctant to move, citing a lack of engineering backgrounds that may limit their eligibility for alternative roles.

Also Read: AI Take Over Human Jobs at Duolingo

Apple’s Justification

Apple spokespersons emphasized the decision’s rationale, stating that it aims to consolidate its “Data Operations Annotations teams in the US together at our campus in Austin, where a majority of the team is already based.” While the company expresses commitment to San Diego’s growth, the sudden move to Texas has left employees questioning earlier indications of a relocation within the city.

Apple plans to move 121-member AI team from San Diego to Austin, Texas

Transition Assistance and Compensation

To ease the transition, Apple is offering a $7,000 relocation stipend for employees willing to move to Austin by the end of June. Those declining the offer will face job termination but will receive severance pay based on their length of service and six months of health insurance. Despite these measures, the uncertainty surrounding future employment prospects has left employees uneasy.

Apple’s Track Record and Industry Dynamics

Apple’s decision to disband the AI team in San Diego marks a departure from its relatively layoffs-free trajectory during the pandemic. The company had managed to avoid significant job cuts, with only a few corporate retail jobs and recruiters affected last April. This recent move, however, raises questions about Apple’s strategic direction in the dynamic tech industry, where companies continuously adjust their operations to align with evolving priorities.

Also Read: AI Surge: Stability AI CEO Predicts Job Losses for Indian Developers Within 2 Years

Our Say

While Apple’s commitment to reorganizing its AI teams signals a shift in focus, the impact on its employees cannot be understated. The decision presents both challenges and opportunities for the affected workforce, highlighting the uncertainties that often accompany corporate reorganizations. As the affected employees weigh their options, the tech industry watches closely, anticipating further developments in Apple’s AI strategy.

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