Amazon is building a more “generalized and capable” large language model (LLM) to power Alexa, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy said yesterday during the company’s first quarter earnings call. An LLM, like ChatGPT, is a deep learning algorithm that can recognize, summarize and generate text and other content based on knowledge from huge amounts of text data.
Jassy said that while Amazon has had an LLM powering Alexa, the tech giant is working on one that’s more capable than the current one. The Amazon executive believes the addition of an enhanced LLM will help Amazon achieve its goal of building “the best personal assistant in the world,” but acknowledged that it will be difficult to do in many domains.
“I think when people often ask us about Alexa, we often share that if we just built a smart speaker, it would be a much smaller investment,” Jassy said on the call. “But we have a vision, which we believe is to build the world’s best personal assistant. And to do that, it’s hard. It covers many domains and it is a very wide area. However, when you think about the advent of large language models and generative AI, the underlying models become much more effective, so I think it accelerates the ability to build the world’s best personal assistant.”
Jassy went on to say he believes Amazon has a good starting point with Alexa as it has “a few hundred million endpoints” used in entertainment, shopping and smart homes. He also noted that there is a lot of involvement from external ecosystem partners.
“We’ve had a big language model under it, but we’re building one that’s much bigger and much more general and capable,” Jassy said. “And I think that will accelerate our vision of becoming the best personal assistant in the world very quickly. I think there is an important business model behind it.”
During the conversation, Jassy emphasized that Amazon has been investing in AI and LLMs for years, and that while it has the ability to invest heavily in building LLMs, small businesses don’t. That’s why the company launched Bedrock earlier this month. Bedrock provides a way to build generative AI-powered apps through pre-trained models from startups including AI21 Labs, Anthropic, and Stability AI. Bedrock is available in a “limited preview” and also includes access to Titan FMs (foundation models), a family of models trained internally by AWS.
Since its launch last year, ChatGPT has been dominating the internet and growing in popularity. With all the hype surrounding ChatGPT, it’s no surprise that major tech companies are looking to incorporate LLM-based enhancements into their own offerings to keep up with the fast-paced AI space. For example, The Information reported yesterday that Apple is developing LLM-based improvements for Siri. It’s worth nothing that Google is probably doing something similar for Assistant.
Amazon wasn’t the only company to bring up AI on its quarterly investor call, as Alphabet, Microsoft and Meta also highlighted their investments in large language models. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said Google would continue to use AI to advance search, while Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company would continue to invest in AI. a ChatGPT integration. In addition, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta, said the company will invest in AI and introduce new AI-related updates to its apps.
Amazon reported first-quarter earnings that beat expectations and initially drove shares up, but later reversed after executives raised concerns about continued weakness in cloud growth. Revenue for the quarter increased 9.4% to $127.4 billion, while operating income totaled $4.8 billion.