Amazon plans to cut several hundred jobs from its Alexa division as it shifts its focus to developing new forms of generative artificial intelligence, according to an internal memo.
The company is discontinuing some unspecified initiatives to better align with its business priorities and customer needs, including maximizing resources and efforts on generative AI, GeekWire reported.
Our investments in generative AI are also bringing our vision for an even more intuitive, intelligent, and useful Alexa closer than ever before. As we continue to invent, we’re shifting some of our efforts to better align with our business priorities, and what we know matters most to customers—which includes maximizing our resources and efforts focused on generative AI.
Daniel Rausch, Vice President of Alexa and Fire TV
The news comes after Amazon recently announced experiments with an LLM-powered Alexa, and Rausch’s memo points out that a future version of Alexa is still important to the company.
“Incorporating a new large language model into a voice-forward, personal AI, has been and continues to be an enormous scientific and engineering challenge. I’m excited for our customers to soon experience the future of Alexa […],” Rausch wrote.
OpenAI recently updated ChatGPT with voice and speech support, making it equivalent to Alexa but more capable. Google’s Assistant is also more advanced and will likely get a Gemini upgrade soon, which should make it more useful, similar to ChatGPT with voice.
Olympus to the rescue?
Amazon is reportedly developing a large language model (LLM) called Olympus to compete with OpenAI and Microsoft in the generative AI market, according to an anonymous source cited by The Information.
The new model is expected to outperform Amazon’s current AI model, Titan, which lags significantly behind models from OpenAI, Google, and open-source models.
Amazon is also investing up to $4 billion in Anthropic, an OpenAI competitor. However, an exclusive deal similar to Microsoft’s and OpenAI’s is unlikely, as Google has also invested $2 billion in Anthropic.
With Google releasing Gemini in Q1 2024, and Microsoft exclusively offering OpenAI’s models, Amazon will be the only major cloud provider without an exclusive LLM offering, threatening the growth of its cloud segment.