The layoffs happen at a time when the company is focussing and investing heavily on software, robotics and AI.
General Electric Co. has apparently laid off an undisclosed number of scientists at its GE Global Research Centre in Niskayuna, New York. This is the centre where many of the company’s major discoveries originate. The layoffs happen at a time when the company is focussing and investing heavily on software, robotics and AI.
The increased focus on artificial intelligence is a sign that the company is becoming more like IBM and Google than the GE of old. A year ago, they also announced several new labs at the Niskayuna research headquarters that align with GE’s new focus. The company has even moved its headquarters from Fairfield, Conn., to Boston as part of that transformation.
Although the exact number of people laid off is not clear yet, there have been reports that the layoffs were also taking place at some of GE’s research labs worldwide. Apparently, the recent layoffs are expected to be several dozen in number, while one online estimate pinned the number as high as 160.
GE employs about 2,000 people in Niskayuna, making this the highest concentration of scientists in the region.
With an endeavour to transform to a digital industrial company, GE is focussing on evolving its research skill set to meet the needs of its customers and industries. In line with that, it is limiting research that is not central to its strategy and is investing in key areas, such as artificial intelligence, robotics and machine learning.
GE has also made some surprising moves in recent months, laying off staff at its fuel cell startup in Saratoga County and getting rid of employees in its energy storage business unit in Schenectady. However, the company remains a leader in industrial equipment manufacturing, such as power plant turbines, airplane engines, wind turbines and medical devices.