IBM has paused hiring and said that it could lay off around 7,800 workers over the next five years.

CEO Arvind Krishna claimed that employees could be replaced by artificial intelligence.

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– Sebastian Moss

Speaking about back-office workers, Krishna told Bloomberg that “these non-customer-facing roles amount to roughly 26,000 workers [at IBM]. I could easily see 30 percent of that getting replaced by AI and automation over a five-year period," for a total of 7,800.

The company laid off 3,900 employees in January, amounting to roughly 1.5 percent of its workforce.

After nearly seven decades without any major layoffs, IBM has regularly downsized since the early '90s. In 1993, the company fired 60,000 employees - which remains a record for a US corporation. It has cut tens of thousands more in the years since.

The company is now looking to artificial intelligence to replace workers after the company's previous forays into AI failed.

After its Watson AI won Jeopardy! in 2011, the company pitched the platform as a general-use system for everything from healthcare to customer service. But the platform was overhyped and failed to revolutionize the industries it was pitched for. In 2021, after numerous setbacks, the company scaled back Watson, and spun off its healthcare effort into a new company.

Now, with a wave of generative AI platforms once again promising to lead to general-use systems, the company once again hopes AI will change how we work - and how many of us will be able to work.