Amazon missed its chance to dominate AI, according to a new report

In the voice assistant arms race, the first may be about to finish last. Shortly after Apple unveiled a new “Apple Intelligence” Siri at its WWDC 2024 keynote, a new report from wealth shows that Amazon’s Alexa – perhaps the most capable of the current voice assistants – is struggling with its generative AI change:

… none of the sources wealth spoke with confidence that Alexa is close to fulfilling Amazon’s mission to be “the world’s best personal assistant,” let alone Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ vision of creating a real-life version of the useful Star Trek computer. Instead, Amazon’s Alexa risks becoming a digital relic with a cautionary tale — that of a potentially game-changing technology that got stuck playing the wrong game.

The lengthy report (which is paid for but syndicated in full on Yahoo Finance) is based on interviews with more than a dozen former employees, who recounted stories of organizational dysfunction combined with technological challenges that drove the company to the brink of bankruptcy. its to dominate AI. wealth reports that Amazon responded to these claims by saying that the details provided by the employees were dated and did not reflect the current state of Alexa LLM.

However, it seems that things are not going well for the newly prepared Alexa. The more conversational and context-aware voice assistant that the company demonstrated at its fall hardware event last year has yet to appear beyond a limited preview. And, according to WEALTH reporting, while Amazon may eventually launch a better LLM-based Alexa, it won’t be anywhere near what it could have been.

“Alexa, are you feeling okay?” A report from wealth says new Alexa has some serious growing pains.
Image: Amazon

Many of the former employees interviewed by wealth said they left in part because they believed the new Alexa would never be ready or would already be overtaken by competitors if and when it launched. Its biggest weakness, compared to companies like OpenAI and its impressive ChatGPT, is that it has to “navigate an existing technology stack and protect an existing functionality stack,” according to wealth.

Basically, the old Alexa is getting in the way of the new Alexa. wealthAmazon’s sources say Amazon hasn’t yet figured out how to combine what Alexa can do now with the capabilities it offered for the new Alexa last fall — a better, smarter, more conversational assistant. . An employee said wealth that the message at the company after the demo event was that “we need to burn the bridge with the old Alexa AI model and move to work only on the new one”.

The message at Amazon was that “we should basically burn the bridge with the old Alexa AI model and focus on working only on the new one”.

According to wealth, Amazon has been grappling with getting its Alexa LLM to consistently and effectively make API calls, which is how the current Alexa interacts with your other things, such as third-party smart home devices and music services. It is also difficult to train LLM to understand natural language, since while there are millions of devices out there, its customers are trained to speak in “Alexa language” and not interact conversationally with the device.

Another reported obstacle has been Amazon’s decentralized organizational structure, in which the thousands of people working on Alexa are split into several teams, causing friction and frustration. Mihail Eric, a research scientist who left the company in 2021, wrote on X (ex-Twitter) that he blames the company’s org chart and persistent quest to connect to a product launch for the failure of his work at Alexa – work that he claims, “if done right, could have been the genesis of an Amazon ChatGPT (long before ChatGPT was released).”

For its part, Amazon says it remains committed to growing its voice assistant. “Our vision for Alexa remains the same – to build the world’s best personal assistant,” said Amazon’s Kristy Schmidt. threshold in response to WEALTH article. “Generative AI offers a huge opportunity to make Alexa even better for our customers. We’ve already integrated generative AI into various Alexa components, and we’re working hard on implementation at scale—in over half a billion Alexa-enabled ambient devices already in the home worldwide—to enable even more proactive, personal, and reliable help to our customers. We’re excited about what we’re building and look forward to delivering it to our customers.”

Whatever missteps in its past, it’s clear that Amazon is trying to catch up. The former head of equipment and services, Dave Limp, left shortly after that fall event. His replacement – Panos Panay, the former head of product at Microsoft – has been in place for just over six months. Fall 2024 is just around the corner. Let’s see if Amazon can deliver on any of its promises.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top