Advertisement

News

[Updated] Duolingo would have fired almost all of its employees… to replace them with an AI

Even is very bad news for some translators, Duolingo confirms that is related to the end of certain projects

[Updated] Duolingo would have fired almost all of its employees… to replace them with an AI
Chema Carvajal Sarabia

Chema Carvajal Sarabia

  • Updated:

It is the most important language learning application in the world, millions of people use it daily to learn new languages. Its usefulness is undeniable and its gamification of learning has helped millions of users around the globe.

Duolingo DOWNLOAD

But now a big shadow looms over it. At least if we pay attention to the information that has been appearing on social media these days. According to these, Duolingo would be firing all its translators.

“How? But if it’s a language learning app and these are necessary”. Well, it seems that artificial intelligence does an equally good and much cheaper job… or so they believe at Luis von Ahn’s company. A few months ago they proudly showcased their GPT-4 integration, and now it seems they are laying off dozens of workers.

Translators to supervise AI texts

In late year, we could read on Reddit the first accusations of layoffs. A user, wrote on the Duolingo subreddit 11 days ago: “In December 2023, Duolingo “fired” a large percentage of its translation contractors. Of course, this is because they realized that AI can do these translations in a fraction of the time. It also saves them money. As a user, how do you feel knowing that sentences and translations are done by AI instead of humans? Does it matter?”.

On Twitter we saw more comments on that side. Taking screenshots of the public accusations against Duolingo and its new business line. For example, user Reid Southen, whose tweet we leave below:

“Duolingo has laid off a large percentage of its hired translators, and those who remain are limited to reviewing AI translations to ensure they are ‘acceptable’. This is the world we are creating. Removing the humanity from how we learn to connect with humanity,” says Reid Southen in his tweet.

The profession of translator, one of the most punished and denigrated by the current system, seems to have to survive another technological advance that goes against it: artificial intelligence and its ability to competently translate texts.

Update

Duolingo has contacted us following the publication of this news to provide us with some details about the layoffs, which clarifies the current situation a bit. This is what they tell us from the American company:

“We can confirm that some Duolingo workers have not been renewed upon the completion of their projects at the end of 2023. But these are not layoffs. This affected a small minority of Duolingo workers, as the majority have been retained,” their communication agency explains.

Thus, what becomes clear is that Duolingo has not actively fired the translators, but rather did not renew certain parts of the staff after completing their assignments. Undoubtedly, the situation is quite different from what was initially portrayed.

Chema Carvajal Sarabia

Chema Carvajal Sarabia

Journalist specialized in technology, entertainment and video games. Writing about what I'm passionate about (gadgets, games and movies) allows me to stay sane and wake up with a smile on my face when the alarm clock goes off. PS: this is not true 100% of the time.

Latest from Chema Carvajal Sarabia

Editorial Guidelines