Tesla (TSLA) is increasingly turning to machines rather than humans as it attempts to develop autonomous vehicles.
As part of Tesla’s plans to cut 10% of salaried staff, the company has laid off a significant number of its data annotation specialists. These specialists do grunt work that is critical to empowering artificial intelligence systems to handle complex tasks like driving safely down a city street.
The layoffs were first reported by Bloomberg Tuesday and confirmed by CNN Business.
Data annotation specialists use software tools to manually label objects in video clips collected from Tesla vehicles. The specialists label common road objects like lane lines, stop signs, traffic cones, curbs and traffic signals. The labeled data is fed into the artificial intelligence system so that it learns to accurately perceive its environment. The more correctly labeled data an AI system has, the better it can be.
Tesla has developed an automated way to do some of this labeling work in recent years, which allows the automaker to streamline its labor force.
“Without the auto labeling I think we would not be able to solve the self-driving problem,” Tesla CEO Elon Musk said at the company’s AI Day in August 2021.