An Indian businessman has ignited controversy and is receiving massive pushback online after reporting that he had fired 90% of his workforce, replacing them with an Artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot program.
The meteoric rise of AI over the past few years has garnered mixed reactions from the public, with many happy to utilise AI programs such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT. However, others have warned about the possible negative consequences of relying on AI, the most prominent among them being the loss of human jobs.
According to Indian businessman Suumit Shah, founder and CEO of e-commerce startup Dukaan, replacing human workers is a necessity in today’s economic climate. In a series of tweets on Monday, Shah shared that he had made the “tough” but “absolutely” necessary decision to lay off 90% of his support team after yielding better results with the company’s new AI chatbot Lina.
Shah said Lina had significantly sped up first response and query resolution times for Dukaan clients.
According to Shah, the company’s resolution time had been reduced to three minutes and 12 seconds from a lengthy two hours and 13 minutes. The customer’s first response times were now instant, whereas they had taken one minute and forty-four seconds, and due to the layoffs, customer support costs were reduced by 85%.
Shah explained that new companies such as his were prioritising “profitability.”
“Given the state of (the) economy, startups are prioritising profitability over striving to become unicorns, and so are we. It’s less magical, sure, but at least it pays the bills! Customer Support had been a struggle for us [ … ] and fixing it felt like an opportunity to me,” Shah wrote.
The businessman went on to share that they had created and started using Lina, as well as a personal AI assistant for customers, in days. Twitter users chastised Shah, with one person suggesting that he was seemingly gloating despite upending the lives of his former employees.
“You disrupted the lives of 90% of your support team, and you’re celebrating it in public. You also likely destroyed your customer support all for a basic ChatGPT wrapper. This is a new low, even for you,” the user wrote.