Amazon missed its chance to dominate artificial intelligence, according to a new report

In the voice assistant arms race, the leader may be about to finish last. Following Apple’s unveiling of a new Siri powered by “Apple Intelligence” at its WWDC 2024 conference, New report from luck He points out that Amazon’s Alexa — arguably the most capable of today’s voice assistants — is struggling with its generative AI shift:

…none of the sources luck We spoke with the belief that Alexa is getting closer to fulfilling Amazon’s mission of being “the world’s best personal assistant,” not to mention Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ vision of creating a real-life version of the handy Star Trek computer. Instead, Amazon’s Alexa risks becoming a digital relic with a cautionary tale — a potentially game-changing technology that has stumbled into playing the wrong game.

The lengthy report (which is paywalled but… Fully subscribed to Yahoo Finance) is drawn from interviews with more than a dozen former employees, who tell stories of organizational dysfunction combined with technological challenges that led the company to blow its chance to take control of artificial intelligence. luck Amazon has reportedly responded to the allegations, saying that the details provided by employees are dated and do not reflect the current status of the issue Alexa LLM.

However, it seems that things are not going smoothly for the new Alexa. The more conversational, context-aware voice assistant that the company showed off at a hardware event last fall has yet to be released after a limited preview. And according to Luck Reports, while Amazon may eventually launch Best Alexa based LLMit won’t be close to what it could have been.

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“Alexa, are you feeling okay?” Report from luck He says the new Alexa is experiencing some serious growing pains.
Image: Amazon

Many are former employees who have previously been interviewed luck They said they left in part because they believed the new Alexa would never be ready or would actually be outdone by competitors if it launched. Its biggest weakness, compared to companies like OpenAI and ChatGPT that make headlines, is that it has to “navigate an existing technology stack and defend an existing feature set,” according to luck.

Basically, the old Alexa is getting in the way of the new Alexa. luckSources say Amazon hasn’t yet figured out how to combine what Alexa can do now with the capabilities it touted for the new Alexa last fall — a better, smarter, more conversational assistant. One employee said luck The message we received from the company after the demo event was, “We need to burn the bridge with the old Alexa AI model and focus on working only on the new model.”

The message at Amazon was, “We need to burn the bridge with the old Alexa AI model and focus on working solely on the new one.”

according to luckAmazon has struggled to get Alexa LLM to make API calls consistently and efficiently, which is how current Alexa interacts with other things, like third-party smart home devices and music services. It also struggles to train LLM to understand natural language, as even though it has millions of devices in the wild, its customers have trained themselves to speak “Alexa language” and not interact with the device.

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Another reported obstacle is Amazon’s decentralized organizational structure, where the thousands of people who work on Alexa are isolated into several teams, causing friction and frustration. Mihail Eric, a research scientist who left the company in 2021, Written on X (formerly Twitter) that he blames the company’s org chart and Search’s insistence on being tied to a product launch for the failure of his work on Alexa — work that he claims “if done right, could have been the genesis of Amazon ChatGPT (long before ChatGPT was released).”

For its part, Amazon says it remains committed to the growth of its voice assistant. “Our vision for Alexa remains the same, which is to build the best personal assistant in the world,” Amazon’s Christy Schmidt said. the edge To respond to Luck condition. “Generative AI provides a huge opportunity to make Alexa better for our customers. We have already integrated generative AI into various components of Alexa, and are working hard to implement at scale – in the more than half a billion Alexa-enabled ambient devices already in homes around the world – to enable… More proactive, personalized and reliable assistance to our customers. We are passionate about what we are building and look forward to delivering it to our customers.”

Whatever mistakes it has made in the past, Amazon is clearly racing to catch up. The previous head of devices and services, Dave Limp, left shortly after this fall event. His replacement – Panos Panai, Microsoft’s former chief product officer – has been in the position for just over six months. Fall 2024 is right around the corner. Let’s see if Amazon is able to deliver on any of its promises.

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