Amazon’s ‘Q’ Is Less Conspiracy, More Corporate AI Chatbot

Amazon’s ‘Q’ Is Less Conspiracy, More Corporate AI Chatbot

Amazon is throwing its e-commerce bulk into the AI game like an enormous capybara stampeding into the outside lane of the ongoing AI rat race. The company finally shared details of its new AI chatbot assistant dubbed “Q” at its AWS re:Invent event on Tuesday. Just as can be expected from the starched suits at Amazon, Q is the kind of chatbot that only wants to talk about productivity, synergy, or whatever other business jargon.

Q is a tailored AI that’s meant to tap into subscribing company’s systems to access pertinent information and draft responses to workers’ queries. Say a worker wants to know which parts of the business customers have been complaining most about lately. If the chatbot has access to customer relations systems, the bot should be able to give a rundown of which complaints have been most reported as of late. The bot could fill out support tickets or summarise documents.

Based on the company’s official announcement post, Amazon’s chatbot doesn’t have much to help it stick out from the pack other than being available through the ubiquitous Amazon Web Services platform. Some of the biggest companies in the world use the e-commerce company’s cloud-based web tools. Amazon promised it wouldn’t use companies’ content to train its AI models, though it’s not as if Amazon revealed what those models are. The AI is “trained on 17 years of AWS knowledge and experience,” but there are scant details of just how capable the AI truly is.

Amazon also claimed its bot would be able to understand the data permissions for workers inside a company. For example, Tim from HR won’t have access to customers’ financial data from the accounting department. Like other similar enterprise AI, the bot can connect and gather data from other external apps like Slack.

The bot is set to compete against Microsoft’s Windows Copilot and other business-oriented AI like Google Duet AI and OpenAI’s ChatGPT Enterprise. Up until now, Amazon has not revealed any in-house AI meant to directly hit its big tech competitors. Previously, the company was offering a “neutral platform” to let other businesses incorporate separate AI models through its Amazon Web Services platform. Over the last few months, Amazon has invested close to $US4 billion in Anthropic, the makers of the Claude 2 AI model.

Still, there must have been at least one Amazon employee who stood up in a meeting to question the viability of the name “Q” for the company’s new chatbot. In today’s conspiracy-laden online environment naming anything that could relate to the QAnon community sounds like a fast path to future controversy.

But beyond the tone-deaf name, Q doesn’t share any real innovation beyond any other chatbot. Amazon said AWS customers can now use generative AI for their customer service tools, whether that’s offering responses to customer support agents, or just taking over the department entirely. The company also announced it was crafting two new AWS-enabled chipsets re-engineered to handle AI workloads. Nvidia, the chipmaker that has a long, long lead in crafting AI-focused chips, also declared it was working with Amazon to offer generative AI supercomputing infrastructure for training even more AI.

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