Amazon's answer to ChatGPT seen as incomplete
Published in Business News
Amazon.com Inc.’s cloud customers are clamoring to get their hands on the ChatGPT-style technology the company unveiled six weeks ago. But instead of being allowed to test it, many are being told to sit tight, prompting concerns the artificial intelligence tool isn’t fully baked.
Amazon’s announcement that it had entered the generative AI race was uncharacteristically vague, according to longtime employees and customers. Amazon Web Services product launches typically include glowing testimonials from three to five customers, these people said. This time the company cited just one: Coda, a document-editing startup.
Coda Chief Executive Officer Shishir Mehrotra said that after testing the technology he awarded Amazon an “incomplete” grade. The company’s generative AI tools are “all fairly early,” he said in an interview. “They’re building on and repackaging services that they already offered.” Mehrotra added that he expected AWS’s AI tools to be competitive long-term.
People familiar with AWS product launches wondered if Amazon released the AI tools to counter perceptions it has fallen behind cloud rivals Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. Both companies are using generative AI — which mines vast quantities of data to generate text or images — to revamp web search and add AI capabilities to a host of products. The technology is unrefined and error-prone, but no one denies its potential to revolutionize computing.
Corey Quinn, the chief cloud economist at the Duckbill Group, a consulting firm that advises AWS clients, expressed what some were thinking about Amazon’s offering. “Feels like vaporware,” he said in an email, using the industry term for a product that’s touted to customers before it’s finished — and may not materialize at all.
Matt Wood, an AWS vice president of product, said in an interview that Amazon’s generative AI software was new, not retooled. “We’ve got the product to the point where we wanted to let customers know what we’re working on and wanted to invite some customers to take it for a spin and give us some feedback as we go,” Wood said. “The idea that this is rushed or incomplete in a way which is careless, I would push back very heavily on that. That’s not our style at all.”
Amazon shares rose about 1% in New York.
AWS currently has a commanding lead over Microsoft and Google in cloud computing. But with generative AI in their arsenals, Amazon’s chief cloud rivals could lure away its customers with a range of new services, from summarizing and generating documents to spotting and describing trends in corporate data.
Given Amazon’s deep expertise and competitive zeal, it would be premature to count the company out at this early stage. The Seattle-based giant has long been considered a leader in artificial intelligence and uses it for a wide range of critical tasks. Software selects how many products to order for sale on Amazon.com, estimates how many workers Amazon’s warehouses will need and plans routes for delivery drivers. AWS products identify faces in images or video, automatically monitor industrial equipment and extract text from medical records.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P. Visit bloomberg.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.