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Amazon’s Alexa is about to get a lot more capable, CEO says

Photo by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

In a company first-quarter earning meeting, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy announced that the company is working on a large language model that is “much larger and much more generalized and capable” to power Alexa. 

With this large language model, Jassy believes it will propel Alexa to become the world’s best personal assistant. The announcement comes after the company laid off thousands of employees and discontinued its line of Halo products

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In the meeting’s transcript, Jassy acknowledges that Alexa was powered by a large language model but aims to equip the virtual assistant with one that can execute more complex tasks. Large language models are all the rage recently, as ChatGPT revolutionized how the industry harnesses the technology.

Jassy says that he believes this endeavor will be successful since many customers have multiple Alexa-capable devices in their homes. Jassy says that every single business within Amazon is “building on top of large language models to reinvent our customer experiences, and you’ll see it in every single one of our businesses, stores, advertising, devices, entertainment.”

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According to Jassy, large language models and generative AI weren’t very impressive until a few months ago, with the advent of ChatGPT. But now, he says, these technologies have the capabilities to transform every aspect of the Amazon customer experience.

How these technologies will transform how we interact with Alexa is unclear. But it’s compelling to think about what we could do with Alexa once it’s equipped with more comprehensive conversational and information-gathering capabilities. 

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Perhaps Alexa could better understand the nuances of human communication and better mimic human conversations. Gone could be the days of, “No, not pop rock, Alexa, I said play hip hop.” Or maybe Alexa could tell you where to find the nearest store that sells a product you’re looking for.

Until recently, tech giants Apple and Amazon have been close to silent about their plans to use large language models and generative AI to enhance their existing voice assistants. Siri and Alexa are limited in their information-gathering and conversational capabilities, but that could be changing soon.

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