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Google is laying off staff who work on some of its most recognizable products

By Brian Fung, CNN

Washington (CNN) — Google is starting the year off with sweeping layoffs across divisions. The layoffs include hundreds of employees who work on some of the company’s most recognizable products, including Google Assistant, the voice-activated software that helps users check the weather, set timers and quickly look up facts.

The Google Assistant layoffs are at least partly driven by a shift in focus toward artificial intelligence, Google said, amid plans to more deeply integrate the company’s latest AI models into its products. The changes further reflect how artificial intelligence already appears to be displacing jobs in the very industry that created it.

The layoffs are also hitting the hardware division that produces Google’s Nest, Pixel and Fitbit devices, with many of the cuts affecting Google’s augmented reality team, the company confirmed to CNN on Thursday.

Google’s core engineering team is also affected by the change, the company said, adding that the layoffs are taking place globally.

The decision follows an announcement this week by Amazon concerning layoffs in its film and television arm as well at Twitch, the company’s live-streaming platform.

It comes after waves of earlier post-pandemic layoffs crashed across the tech industry and the wider economy, as well as a doubling-down by tech companies on in-office work after spending much of the pandemic promoting a remote-first culture.

Google is working to find other roles for some of the affected employees amid the restructuring, the company said.

“We’re responsibly investing in our company’s biggest priorities and the significant opportunities ahead,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement.

The layoffs were earlier reported by Semafor and 9to5 Google, which also reported that Fitbit co-founders James Park and Eric Friedman are departing Google as part of this week’s changes.

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