Dukaan, an Indian e-commerce company, suddenly has 90 percent fewer workers. In their place, it has a chatbot one of the company’s data scientists created over a span of two days.
Founder and CEO Suumit Shah tweeted that the firings were “tough” but “necessary.”
“Given the state of [the] economy,” he wrote, “startups are prioritizing profitability.”
The bot responds instantly to a customer inquiry; humans responded in an average of one minute and 44 seconds, often because they were helping other callers. In contrast, the chatbot can help multiple customers at the same time.
Dumping the 23 workers has erased 85 percent of the cost in customer service, Shah noted.
Even more impressive, the chatbot is resolving customers’ issues in an average of three minutes and 12 seconds.
Humans were averaging two hours and 13 minutes, often because they had to dig through records and check procedural manuals before arriving at a conclusion.
Shah called for “a future where AI and humans work together” while adding that he’s looking for other ways that AI can take over humans’ roles.
Comments about Shah’s tweet were almost uniformly negative, with various people citing his “lack of empathy” and calling his tone “disrespectful” to the people he dumped.
“I don’t think someone losing their jobs is something to boast about,” another wrote.
TRENDPOST: This well-publicized surrender to the power and efficiency of AI will sharpen workers’ fears of AI and with good reason.
Public companies are obligated to maximize shareholders’ returns. That will persuade many CEOs that they have little choice but to shed humans and stock the organization chart with a range of specialized AIs.
With no regulations to protect workers’ jobs, and a small minority of workers belonging to unions, employees’ jobs depend on owners’ goodwill.
However—with consumers becoming more socially aware—in recent years companies have learned that bad behavior hurts sales. Public shaming may be the only threat that persuades a company to keep humans on the payroll.