Alphabet-owned DeepMind AI to shut office in Canada, lay off employees in UK

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Alphabet-owned DeepMind artificial intelligence unit has reportedly said that it will close its offices in Canada and lay off some staff in the UK. Alphabet is also the parent company of Google, which recently announced that it will cut its workforce by 12,000.
Citing an internal memo sent by the company, Bloomberg reports that DeepMind’s office in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada will be closed down. The Edmonton office was the only DeepMind office not housed within a Google campus, the report said.
The memo also says that the engineers and researchers who will be impacted will be offered the option to relocate to other offices. However, those in the organisational infrastructure unit will be laid off.

“DeepMind has made the difficult decision to consolidate its Canadian offices and close the Edmonton office, while maintaining its other Canadian locations in Montréal and Toronto, which are within Google offices,” a statement from the Google parent company read.
Google cuts 12,000 jobs
The development comes amid the recent wave of layoffs in the tech sector globally. Recently, Google announced that it would remove about 12,000 jobs. The employees impacted by the layoff include those working in departments such as Google Cloud, Chrome to Android, strategy, recruiting and go-to-market teams. The company’s in-house research and development (R&D) division called Area 120 has also been significantly hit.

Google’s AI chatbot Sparrow
Recently, DeepMind published a research paper on AI chatbot Sparrow and defined it as a dialogue agent “that’s useful and reduces the risk of unsafe and inappropriate answers. Our agent is designed to talk with a user, answer questions, and search the internet using Google when it’s helpful to look up evidence to inform its responses.”
The company said that it wants the chatbot to prioritise “getting facts right, ensuring safety and getting rid of misinformation.” It also wrote that “further work is needed to ensure similar results [received in English language] across other languages and cultural contexts.”

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