Amazon may have been offering the Alexa voice assistant for years now and have made extensive investment in the fields of cloud computing and machine learning technologies, but is nowhere to be seen when it comes to offering something that can compete with the likes of ChapGPT. Microsoft played it cool and quickly poured in billions into OpenAI to emerge as a strong player in the segment. Google has stated they are working on Bard which it believes will emerge as a viable alternative to chatGPT in the foreseeable future. Amazon seems to have been reduced to being a non-player already though the company would like us to believe things are far from over right now. During a recent all-hands meeting for its cloud computing employees, Amazon executives reassured staff that the company continues to be in the race and has not fallen behind in AI development as is being perceived by many.
“We have a lot happening in the space,” said Swami Sivasubramanian, the vice president of database, analytics and machine learning at Amazon during the March meeting, details of which The Washington Post had access to. “We have a lot coming, and I’m very excited to share some of our plans in the future.”
While Amazon has made significant investments in AI, including its voice assistant Alexa and machine learning for its retail and cloud computing businesses, it has yet to launch a consumer-facing generative AI system like those developed by rivals such as Google and Microsoft. This has led some to speculate that the company is lagging behind in the AI race. At a recent AI conference, some attendees noted Amazon’s absence and suggested that the tech giant had fallen behind its peers in this area. However, Amazon’s cloud unit is now expanding its partnership with AI startup Hugging Face, which is developing a ChatGPT rival, indicating that the company is still actively investing in AI technology.
Hugging Face happens to be an AI start-up that is developing an alternative to OpenAI’s language model ChatGPT. This partnership is part of a wider trend of major tech companies seeking strategic partnerships in the emerging market for generative AI systems. As part of the expanded partnership, Hugging Face’s AI models will be available on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to developers building chatbots and other conversational AI applications. This move will help Amazon compete with other cloud providers, including Microsoft and Google, which have already made significant investments in this space.
“If you look at our track record on how we innovated in machine learning, we really paved the way for adoption of machine learning among mainstream enterprises and customers,” Sivasubramanian said. “We are excited to do the same in this space because this space is rapidly evolving, but we will do it in an Amazonian way. We will listen to customers and look at what areas they really need help and how to make them successful in this space.”
Amazon is also claiming they have been at the game for a long time now, and have delivered products and services that rely on machine learning and AI technologies. In addition to AWS Polly and Amazon Panorama, Amazon Web Services offers several other AI-powered tools and services, including Amazon Rekognition for image and video analysis, Amazon Transcribe for speech-to-text transcription, Amazon Comprehend for natural language processing, Amazon SageMaker for machine learning, and many others.
AWS Polly, meanwhile, converts written text into human-like speech while Amazon Panorama happens to be a computer vision tool that can analyze camera footage and promptly notify individuals of issues, such as a defective product on a conveyor belt. These tools enable businesses to leverage AI to automate various tasks, gain insights from data, and improve customer experiences.
Amazon has also made significant investments in its voice assistant, Alexa. However, voice-activated chat technologies such as Alexa and Siri are inherently distinct from generative AI, which has the ability to learn and adapt rather than simply respond to queries. Amazon had anticipated that Alexa would eventually be used by customers for shopping and ordering products without having to use a phone or computer. Although the speakers are widely used, this behavior has not yet become prevalent.
Maybe what Amazon has to do at the moment is take stock of the situation and develop a clear idea of where it wishes to be seen in the future. It has to come to terms with a scenario where generative AI tech has made rapid inroads into much of what we do. That said, it is still too early to predict how things are likely to shape up in the near or long term future now that generative AI tech is becoming mainstream. The uncertain economic scenario isn’t helping things either for the big tech companies that have been forced to lay off thousands to remain profitable. Amazon too has laid off more than it has ever done before, including hundreds of those who have been associated with Alexa.
As such, it now remains to be seen how the company regroups itself and emerges at the forefront of the AI war currently being waged with full gusto at the Silicon Valley and elsewhere in the world.
With a keen interest in tech, I make it a point to keep myself updated on the latest developments in technology and gadgets. That includes smartphones or tablet devices but stretches to even AI and self-driven automobiles, the latter being my latest fad. Besides writing, I like watching videos, reading, listening to music, or experimenting with different recipes. The motion picture is another aspect that interests me a lot, and I'll likely make a film sometime in the future.