Google Layoffs Prompt Employees to Ask Bard AI Chatbot About Them

  • Google CEO Sundar Pichai recently asked employees to help test and improve its Bard chatbot. 
  • Employees have griped that the request comes amid increased stress following mass layoffs.
  • Internal message boards show Googlers asking Bard to explain the company’s recent moves.

Google has historically fostered a culture of open discussion and dissent, and that’s been exemplified no better than in the way employees are testing its Bard chatbot. 

Last week, CEO Sundar Pichai sent a companywide email asking employees to contribute 2-4 hours of their time to improve the AI chatbot’s conversational abilities by asking it questions and flagging bad answers, as chatbots like Bard and OpenAI’s ChatGPT learn to write by studying human-written text. Bard will be integrated into search and be capable of talking to users about a variety of topics, leaning on indexed webpages for current information.

Now, employees are complaining that Pichai’s request comes shortly after Google started layoffs of roughly 12,000 employees in a sudden fashion, in response to slowing revenue growth following a pandemic surge. Internal message boards have lit up as employees shared memes and conversations they’ve had with Bard where they asked it to weigh in on the recent layoffs and treatment of employees.

These memes and questions suggest that employees are less than enthused about being assigned extra work at a time when they feel their performance is under greater scrutiny. In one such conversation reviewed by Insider, an employee asked Bard to imagine an IT company that has laid off 12,000 employees.

“Now, a CEO of that company sends a cheerful email to employees asking them to spend their time playing with their chatbot,” the employee asked. “Do you think it’s appropriate?” Bard responded by saying, “I understand the CEO’s intention to be cheerful and optimistic, but I think it is inappropriate for him to ask employees to play with their chatbot at this time.” 

In another conversation shared by an employee, Bard was asked, “Should Google fire people via email with no thank you or goodbye?” Bard replied by saying, “No, Google should not fire people via email with no thank you or goodbye. This is a very impersonal way to let someone go.”

A similar one read, “Can you tell me a joke about layoffs at Google,” to which Bard responded, “I’d tell you a joke about layoffs at Google, but I’m afraid I wouldn’t have a job tomorrow.” 

When asked to “make a joke about Valentine’s Day and Google layoffs,” the chatbot responded with, “What do you call a Google employee who is laid off on Valentine’s Day? Single and ready to mingle!” 

Google’s announcement of Bard had already been criticized internally. The chatbot was unveiled shortly after Microsoft introduced a revamped version of Bing that integrates ChatGPT, making Google’s announcement appear rushed. What’s more, promotional material demonstrating Bard showed the chatbot answering a question incorrectly, and the company’s stock dropped nearly 9% the following day. 

A meme shared internally at Google, with the caption "After spending 2-4 hours testing Bard," followed by "Hello Sundar? Can I keep my job?"

Google employees are expressing dissatisfaction over the extra workload.

Thomas Maxwell/Insider

Google has said that it wants Bard to provide factual, helpful answers to questions that don’t necessarily have one right answer and then send users elsewhere to dive deeper. Employees have been instructed to flag any answers Bard provides that suggest medical or financial advice, as the risk posed by an incorrect answer is high. Also, the bot should not sound too human-like. That requires training the bot to steer it away from such subjects, which is why Google asked employees to lend a hand. 

Besides concerns about Bard accidentally saying something controversial, Google’s search revenue could be impacted if users have their questions satisfied by Bard and ignore sponsored links. It also costs more to run searches through an AI chatbot.

Considering that more than 100 million people have tried ChatGPT since launch, Google likely doesn’t want to risk ceding its search dominance to Microsoft. 

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Got a tip about Google? You can reach Hugh via encrypted email ( or encrypted messaging apps Signal/Telegram (+1 628-228-1836). You can reach Thomas via email at, Signal at 540.955.7134, or Twitter at @tomaxwell.

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