Duolingo lays off contractors as it starts relying more on AI

Duolingo has cut 10 percent of its contractors and using AI tools to handle the tasks they used to do, Bloomberg reports. “We just no longer need as many people to do the type of work some of these contractors were doing,” a spokesperson told the news organization without saying what they did for the company exactly. “Part of that could be attributed to AI.”

As Bloomberg notes, Chief Executive Officer Luis von Ahn told shareholders in November that the company is using AI to create new content, such as scripts, “dramatically faster.” Duolingo also relies on AI to generate the voices users hear in-app. The company previously released customer-facing AI features, as well. Last year, it introduced a premium tier called Duolingo Max that gives subscribers access to a chatbot that can explain why their responses were correct or incorrect. Another Max feature called Roleplay lets subscribers practice their language skills in made-up scenarios, like ordering food in a Parisian cafe.

The rise of modern generative AIs over the past couple of years brought to surface society’s fear of losing jobs to technology. In this case, no full-timers were affected by the job reductions, and the spokesperson said it’s not a sign that it’s straight up replacing its workers with artificial intelligence. A lot of the company’s full-time employees and contractors are apparently using AI tools to accomplish certain tasks in their work.

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