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Duolingo Cuts 10% of Contractors While Expanding Use of AI 

Duolingo

Duolingo has cut about 10% of its contractors due to its use of generative artificial intelligence (AI) to create content. 

The maker of software for learning languages has been shifting tasks from staff to AI tools, Bloomberg reported Monday (Jan. 8). 

“We just no longer need as many people to do the type of work some of these contractors were doing,” a Duolingo spokesperson told the media outlet. “Part of that could be attributed to AI.” 

Duolingo CEO Luis von Ahn said in a November letter to shareholders that generative AI enables users to create text, speech and images more quickly, resulting in a faster production of new content, according to the report. 

For example, Duolingo now uses AI to generate scripts for language-teaching shows, the report said. Additionally, the company has introduced Duolingo Max, a premium tier that offers AI-generated feedback and conversations in various languages. 

At the same time, no full-time Duolingo employees were affected by the move, and many now use AI tools in their work, per the report. 

A report by the World Economic Forum predicts that AI will cause significant disruption in the labor market within the next five years, although the overall impact may be positive as employers seek workers with more technical skills to navigate AI technology, per the report. 

The cuts at Duolingo reinforce concerns that have been raised by employee groups and unions worried that businesses may use AI to downsize their workforce, the Bloomberg report said. 

In response to these concerns, Microsoft recently announced a partnership with the AFL-CIO to address the impact of AI on employment, according to the report. 

Microsoft President Brad Smith said that while AI may eliminate certain aspects of jobs, it can also accelerate productivity and eliminate repetitive tasks, per the report. 

Advances in AI could eventually impact 300 million jobs worldwide, Goldman Sachs said in March. Twenty-five percent of the jobs in the United States and Europe could be affected by automation, the investment bank and financial services company found. 

In November, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said AI is the most disruptive force in history and predicted that the technology would eventually render all jobs obsolete.