In a controversial move, Suumit Shah, the CEO of Indian A.I. app Dukaan, boasted on Twitter about laying off 90% of the customer support team and replacing them with chatbots. He claimed that this decision was tough but necessary, emphasizing the improved response time and reduced customer support costs. (livemint.com) (fortune.com) However, the announcement faced severe backlash on Twitter, with users calling out Shah for being heartless and tone-deaf, particularly during a time when many workers are struggling to make ends meet. Critics accused him of prioritizing profit over the well-being of his employees and lacking empathy.
The Twitter backlash was swift and harsh, with users expressing their disappointment and frustration with Shah’s approach. Many condemned his celebration of layoffs and questioned his lack of human sensitivity. Some highlighted the need for founders to demonstrate empathy and warned others to be cautious when working with leaders who prioritize self-promotion over their employees’ welfare. While acknowledging the importance of profitability for companies, users criticized Shah for turning a sad situation into a boastful post about his AI tool and growth, which left a negative impression. (fortune.com)
While there were defenders of A.I. (fortune.com) and its potential benefits, they emphasized that human jobs should not be sacrificed in the process. They argued that Shah’s decision was indicative of poor business practices and governance, suggesting that the layoffs were more likely due to a failing business and lack of funding rather than the sole result of implementing A.I. technology. These responses highlighted the importance of responsible and ethical business conduct, urging companies to consider the impact on employees when making decisions about automation.
Adding insult to injury, Shah ended his Twitter thread by announcing job opportunities in other areas of the business, such as e-commerce and product design. This announcement further deepened the resentment felt by those who had been laid off, as it seemed to disregard the impact of their job losses and the challenges they now faced.
Shah’s case is not an isolated incident. IBM reports that three-quarters of CEOs are eager to adopt A.I., citing productivity gains as the primary reason. Recent data shows that thousands of workers in the U.S. alone have lost their jobs due to A.I., and a Goldman Sachs study predicts that up to 300 million jobs worldwide could be displaced by A.I. in the next decade. These trends raise concerns about the potential ramifications for the workforce and the need for thoughtful consideration of the human impact during the integration of A.I. technologies.
Fortune has reached out to Dukaan for comment on the controversy surrounding Shah’s statements. (fortune.com)
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