Amazon announces incremental AI improvements to fend off rivals

By Greg Bensinger

(Reuters) – Inc (AMZN) on Wednesday announced a series of largely incremental improvements to several of its artificial intelligence products, aiming to keep rivals at bay amid a continuing investor frenzy over the technology.

The retailer sought to counter the impression that rivals Google, Microsoft and OpenAI have taken the lead in developing generative AI, which can respond almost instantly with complete sentences or images to complex prompts or queries.

The improvements Amazon announced at its conference in New York include adding more memory to so-called agents that automate businesses’ work, so that each new request can build on previous ones, said Vasi Philomin, Amazon’s vice president of generative AI.

“This enables agents to deliver more personalized and seamless experiences, especially for complex tasks,” Philomin said in an interview Tuesday.

He said, for example, that the updated AI agents could remember, for each subsequent request, whether a user prefers aisle or window seats on a flight, something that wasn’t possible before.

Amazon also said it has updated the Q chatbot it announced last November to provide better suggestions for writing software code, addressing one of the most popular uses of generative AI.

Amazon also said it has made improvements to help customers of its Bedrock service, which allows companies to build apps with a range of AI models, detect and filter out so-called hallucinations — when AI creates answers to questions or requests that may be wrong or misleading.

Hallucinations are a recurring problem in AI systems because they arouse distrust among users. Google, for example, came under fire earlier this year for an AI-powered search feature that, among other things, recommended users add glue to pizza sauce to ensure the cheese would stick to it.

The new controls will help reduce the occurrence of hallucinations by about 75% for some uses, Matt Wood, vice president of AI products at Amazon Web Services, said in an interview.

AWS, which oversees much of Amazon’s AI development, is on track to reach $100 billion in annual revenue, the company said in April.

(Reporting by Greg Bensinger; Editing by Michael Perry)

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