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AI could ‘solve some of our hardest problems,’ says Amazon CTO Werner Vogels

FILE - A company logo is seen at the entrance of Amazon, in Douai, northern France, on April 16, 2020.
FILE - A company logo is seen at the entrance of Amazon, in Douai, northern France, on April 16, 2020. Copyright Michel Spingler/Copyright 2020 The AP.
Copyright Michel Spingler/Copyright 2020 The AP.
By Pascale Davies
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Amazon’s Chief Technology Officer discusses how the company is using artificial intelligence (AI).

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“If you've been an Amazon customer for the past 25 years, you've been exposed to AI. You just didn't know,” Amazon.com’s chief technology officer Werner Vogels told Euronews Next.

While the American tech giant does not have a large language model (LLM) to compete with OpenAI or Google, it does have AI models on Amazon Web Services (AWS) and uses the technology for its customer experience.

“I think you want to make a difference between what I would call AI that works and the new AI,” he said at the VivaTech fair in Paris.

“Not that the new AI doesn't work, but I think the things that we've seen in the past year and a half actually do not necessarily reflect a complete body of AI”.

Vogels is excited by how the technology has wide uses that could solve the world’s greatest problems such as helping to better detect breast cancer or eradicating poverty.

“I believe that this kind of technology has a tremendous potential to not only create really healthy, good businesses but solve some of our really hardest problems at the same time in a sustainable manner,” he said.

AWS is not in the consumer business and not building chatbots, Vogels said.

“It may look like that we're not that much in the news with respect to that but that's because our customers are building those,” he said.

His comments come as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has voiced concern Amazon is falling behind in the AI race, which was reported this month by CNBC.

I believe that this kind of technology has a tremendous potential to not only create really healthy, good businesses but solve some of our really hardest problems at the same time in a sustainable manner,
Werner Vogels
Amazon CTO

While Amazon has invested in AI start-up Anthropic, its AWS subsidiary’s goal is to ensure that access to AI and its technologies is democratised and sustainable.

“With every technology, I believe there's a huge opportunity to not only create a great business and make money and become a billionaire or things like that,” he said.

“We believe that with success and scale comes broad responsibility as well, which means that we need to make sure that we develop technologies that can not only be used to actually build a great business, but actually build a great business that can do good at the same time”.

Vogels also said it is not just access but inclusivity that is also paramount to AI.

While chatbots have shown off their live translation capabilities, he said the core of them are still in English or related to US culture.

If you asked a US chatbot for a review of Chilean author Isabel Allende’s books, you would get a different review from a South American woman, he said.

‘We need to make sure that it's not just that they have access to them, but that they have access in a way that is important to their culture”.

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