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Amazon joins generative AI fervor with new app-building tool and large language models


By Webb Wright, NY Reporter

April 13, 2023 | 8 min read

The company’s new Bedrock service – currently being rolled out in a “limited preview” – will help brands to enhance their own software and content using AI-generated text and images.


Amazon has long leveraged AI and ML for some of its key products and services. / Adobe Stock

Amazon has become the latest big tech company to stake its claim in the rapidly growing generative AI industry.

In a company blog post published this morning, Amazon Web Services (AWS) vice-president of data and machine learning Swami Sivasubramanian introduced Amazon Bedrock, a new service that enables AWS customers to develop their own apps using generative AI. The company has also announced the release of two new large language models (LLMs).

Through Amazon Bedrock, software developers can leverage LLMs – Sivasubramanian refers to them as foundation models, or FMs – from tech companies AI21 Labs and Anthropic, as well as a text-to-image model from Stability AI, the company behind a popular text-to-image model called Stable Diffusion.

Sivasubramanian claims that Bedrock makes it “easy” for AWS customers to create their own customized content, invoking the imaginary example of “a content marketing manager who works at a leading fashion retailer and needs to develop fresh, targeted ad and campaign copy for an upcoming new line of handbags.” All that a content marketing manager needs to do, he said, is prompt the system with “a few labeled examples of their best-performing taglines from past campaigns, along with the associated product descriptions, and Bedrock will automatically start generating effective social media, display ad and web copy for the new handbags.”

Bedrock is currently being launched for “limited preview” according to the blog post, which added that Deloitte, Accenture and Linksys will be among the first brands to integrate the new system.

"If you’re not learning, testing and trying, you’re stagnating,” says Scott Mager, Chief marketing officer at Deloitte Consulting LLP. “We’ve been dabbling in AI for quite some time, and we’re super excited to formalize our generative AI practice, working with our alliance organizations and tech leaders to build generative AI applications that will revolutionize the way we all work. Amazon Bedrock will help us provide clients with a cost-effective, serverless API for AWS customers to build generative AI applications to advance their business, and advance the future. And that’s a win-win."

Amazon also announced this morning the launch of two new LLMs, both of which the company is referring to as Titan. One model generates text while the other is designed for embeddings (a process used in natural language processing that converts text into numbers).

“We have been previewing Amazon’s new Titan FMs with a few customers before we make them available more broadly in the coming months,” Sivasubramanian wrote.

Amazon and AI: past, present and future

Sivasubramanian framed this morning’s announcement in a flush of enthusiasm for generative AI, a branch of artificial intelligence that leverages deep learning to create text, video, images, code and other forms of content from user inputs, such as text-based prompts.

“We are truly at an exciting inflection point in the widespread adoption of [machine learning],” he wrote, “and we believe most customer experiences and applications will be reinvented with generative AI.”

The field of generative AI has become a cultural phenomenon and a media lightning rod since the launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT in November. The model rapidly became the most popular consumer product in history, reportedly reaching the landmark of 100 million monthly active users in January.

According to Sivasubramanian, while Amazon might not be the first tech company that comes to mind for most people when they think of AI and machine learning (ML), it has nevertheless been a pioneering force in the field for some time. “AI and ML have been a focus for Amazon for over 20 years and many of the capabilities customers use with Amazon are driven by ML.” He notes that ML powers some of Amazon’s most popular products and services, including its e-commerce platform, Prime Air, Amazon Go and, of course, Alexa. He calls ML a big part of Amazon’s “heritage, current ethos and future.”

This morning’s announcement also underscored Amazon’s commitment to empowering brands of all shapes and sizes to be able to harness the power of generative AI. “At AWS, we have played a key role in democratizing ML and making it accessible to anyone who wants to use it. We take the same democratizing approach to generative AI: we work to take these technologies out of the realm of research and experiments and extend their availability far beyond a handful of startups and large, well-funded tech companies.”

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The race for AI supremacy

As the world swoons (and sometimes frets) over the capabilities of powerful new LLMs such as GPT-4, AI has become the apple of almost every tech giant’s eye in recent months.

In early February, Microsoft announced a handful of AI-powered upgrades – using technology from OpenAI – to its Bing and Edge platforms. At around the same time, Google launched Bard, its own AI-powered chatbot (the public debut of which revealed some technical issues with the model). Snap jumped on the bandwagon later that month with a chatbot called My AI, then Meta announced the launch of two new AI-powered brand suitability features in March. Chinese tech giant Alibaba unveiled its own generative AI model earlier this week. You get the idea.

A report from Grand View Research published in December estimated that the global generative AI market will reach a value of $109.37bn by 2030.

This morning’s announcement from Amazon reads a bit like a declaration of the company’s entrance into the race among leading tech companies to establish positions of power and influence in the burgeoning generative AI industry. But Sivasubramanian also seems to suggest that Amazon will approach this race with the strategy of the proverbial tortoise, taking care not to rush: “The potential of FMs is incredibly exciting. But, we are still in the very early days.”

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