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Week in tech: Layoffs at Twitter and Delhi's worsening AQI

From layoffs at Elon Musk's Twitter to the rise in sales of air purifiers in Delhi, here's a look at what made news in the world of science and technology

The Twitter Headquarters in San Francisco, California on November 4, 2022. Half of Twitter's 7,500 employees were laid off on November 4, an internal document showed, as new owner Elon Musk began a major revamp of the troubled company. (AFP)

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The hazardous levels of air pollution in Delhi – and the resulting rise in sale of air purifiers – made all the headlines this week. But there was a lot more happening at Google and Elon Musk's Twitter and Google. Here’s a closer look.

Twitter layoffs

Elon Musk’s overhaul of Twitter continued this past week as the social media company saw widespread layoffs, including its staff in India. The San Francisco-based company told workers by email Thursday that they would learn Friday if they had been laid off. About half of the company’s staff of 7,500 was let go, Yoel Roth, Twitter’s head of safety & integrity, confirmed in a tweet, an AP report explains.

Musk, the founder of Tesla and SpaceX, tweeted late Friday that there was no choice but to cut the jobs “when the company is losing over $4M/day.” The 51-year-old did not provide details on the daily losses at the company and said employees who lost their jobs were offered three months' pay as a severance.

Air purifier sales shoot up as Delhi chokes

Delhi continued to grapple with severe air quality conditions this week. According to Central Pollution Control Board data, Delhi's overall Air Quality Index (AQI) stood at 426 at 9.30 am on Friday. An AQI of above 400 is considered "Severe" and can affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing illnesses. On Thursday, the 24-hour average AQI stood at 450 at 4 pm, just a notch below the "Severe Plus" category, a Press Trust of India report said. In the wake of this situation, sales of air purifiers have shot up in the national capital. Market experts said air purifier sales were higher in south Delhi since people living there had higher purchasing power and better awareness, the PTI report adds. The demand has risen, particularly after Diwali.

Google expands its flood, wildfire tracking

Earlier this week, Google announced that it was expanding it Artificial Intelligence-based flood forecasting initiative, which uses machine learning models to provide people with detailed alerts, to more countries across the world. In 2021, Google sent 115 million flood alert notifications to 23 million people over Search and Maps, helping save countless lives, a blogpost explains. These flood forecasts are now expanding to river basins in 18 additional countries across Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. Apart from this, the technology company launched FloodHub, a new platform that displays flood forecasts and shows when and where floods may occur to help people directly at risk and provide critical information to aid organizations and governments.

Also read: How art helps us talk about air pollution

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