Apple laid off 600 employees after car, smart screen projects shut shop: report

Tech giant Apple has laid off 600 employees across its self-driving car and smartwatch screen projects, news agency Bloomberg reported on Friday. Both projects were scrapped earlier this year.

According to the report, Apple filed eight separate reports to the state of California to comply with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification, or WARN program.

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“Companies must file a report to the state agency for each California address that includes employees affected by a layoff. At least 87 of the people worked at an address corresponding to a secret Apple facility for its next-generation screen development, while the others were located at buildings related to the car project,” the report added.

The report noted that 371 employees were released at Apple’s main car-related office in Santa Clara, California, while dozens more at multiple satellite offices were also impacted. “In some cases, members of the Apple car group were relocated to other teams, such as for artificial intelligence or work on personal robotics.”

Layoffs at Apple have not been a usual phenomenon — a contrast to other Big Tech companies like Alphabet, Amazon, Microsoft, etc that have handed pink slips to thousands of employees, owing to global macroeconomic volatility.

In 2022, it sacked about 100 contract-based recruiters as part of a wider push to rein in the tech giant’s hiring and spending. It also slowed down hiring considering the unfavourable market conditions.

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AI projectsApple plans to disclose more about its plans to put generative artificial intelligence to use later this year, CEO Tim Cook said during the company’s annual shareholder meeting last month.

Cook said the iPhone maker sees “incredible breakthrough potential for generative AI, which is why we’re currently investing significantly in this area. We believe that will unlock transformative opportunities for users when it comes to productivity, problem-solving, and more.”

Apple announced its annual developer conference WWDC on June 10 this year, and many expect the company to finally announce its AI offerings. Apple might push for AI integration into its upcoming iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and other platforms that have been confirmed to be showcased during the conference.

Meanwhile, reports suggest that Apple is in talks with both Google and OpenAI to power its iPhone AI features.

Also read | ETtech Explainer: Is Apple’s ReALM better than OpenAI’s GPT-4?


Last week, Apple published a research paper discussing its large language model (LLM) Reference Resolution As Language Modeling (ReALM) and how it can “substantially outperform” OpenAI’s GPT-4.

Apple said that while LLMs are extremely powerful for a variety of tasks, their use in reference resolution, particularly for non-conversational entities, remains underutilised.

Reference resolution can be defined as the task of determining what entities are referred to by which linguistic expression. In most cases, they refer to ambiguous or contextual words such as ‘they’ or ‘them’.

While humans can easily understand them, it is difficult for AI chatbots to determine their context and subsequently comprehend them.

“This paper demonstrates how LLMs can be used to create an extremely effective system to resolve references of various types, by showing how reference resolution can be converted into a language modeling problem, despite involving forms of entities like those on screen that are not traditionally conducive to being reduced to a text-only modality,” Apple said in the paper.


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