Despite its years of development of voice assistant Alexa and investment in cloud computing and machine learning, Amazon has been conspicuously absent from Silicon Valley’s escalating AI wars.
However, executives assured cloud computing employees at a recent all-hands meeting that the company has not fallen behind. According to a recording obtained by The Washington Post, Swami Sivasubramanian, Amazon’s vice president of database, analytics, and machine learning, said at the March meeting, “We have a lot happening in the space.” “We have a lot coming up, and I’m very excited to share some of our future plans.”
When generative AI exploded onto the scene in November with the launch of ChatGPT, it was the formerly nonprofit research group OpenAI that took the prize. Google and Microsoft (the latter of which invested billions in OpenAI) raced to catch up, releasing chatbot products Bard and Bing not long after.
Despite operating a massive cloud computing business, having the most employees, and a market valuation of more than a trillion dollars, Amazon was nowhere in the running.
Amazon Web Services has announced partnerships with AI companies such as Stability AI and Hugging Face, which will allow other companies to build artificially intelligent products using Amazon’s infrastructure. Machine learning is used by the company in many of its business divisions, including Alexa and Amazon.com search. However, the company’s failure to launch a consumer-facing generative AI has led some to speculate that it is lagging.
A select group of venture capitalists and AI company founders recently gathered at the Cerebral Valley AI conference, where Amazon was conspicuously absent. According to some attendees, the tech titan appears to have fallen behind its competitors in the AI race.
At the recent all-hands meeting, executives seemed to push back on that idea.
Chatbots are just “one example of an application of these kind of models,” Sivasubramanian said. He said Amazon’s more than 100,000 machine-learning customers have expressed interest in using the company’s technology to improve personalization, search engine results and even to automate call centers.