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[Slashdot] - AI Isn't Magical and Won't Help You Reopen Your Business

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The coronavirus is helping to erode the hype around artificial intelligence; data scientists get the axe and some 'old-fashioned' solutions work better. From a report: When SharpestMinds, a startup that sells mentoring services to data scientists, surveyed its alumni in April and again in May, it found that 6% of respondents had been affected by furloughs, pay cuts or layoffs. That's a drop on the ocean compared to the enormous layoffs in, say, the restaurant business, but it's notable because these jobs are generally thought to be business-critical roles requiring high-demand specialized skill sets. Uber recently shut down its AI research lab, and Airbnb's layoffs included at least 29 full-time data scientists, according to its directory of those let go. The pain for data scientists will likely increase as companies rethink how they spend, predicts SharpestMinds founder Edouard Harris. Hiring for such roles has slowed significantly, down by 50% since before the pandemic, he adds. On the other hand, that means there's still demand, though it's diminished. What's happening is not so much a reckoning as a "rationalization" of the application of AI in businesses, says Rajeev Sharma, head of enterprise AI at Pactera Edge, a technology-consulting firm. "[Companies] feel this is a time they can get rid of extra hires or lower performers who are not a good cultural fit," he adds.

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