Amazon is making big moves in artificial intelligence. The online retail giant on Monday said that it’s investing up to $4 billion in a partnership with AI startup Anthropic to aid the development of new generative AI models. The partnership is the newest example of Amazon’s continued investment in AI that could eventually show up in the devices you use at home or affect the way you shop.
For now, the partnership will mainly focus on bolstering Anthropic’s development of generative AI models. It will use the retail giant’s cloud services and microchips that Amazon developed to train language models. When these models are ready, Amazon Web Service users will get a first crack at trying them out through Amazon Bedrock, a service that helps companies and developers build generative AI-powered apps.
Anthropic’s chat bot Claude 2, which has been available to the public in beta since July, is poised as a competitor to Google’s Bard and OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Claude 2 is a generative AI chat bot, meaning it uses a large language model to respond to questions, write documents and help with things like math and coding.
Amazon’s multibillion dollar investment also comes with a minority ownership position in Anthropic. This partnership seems to align with Amazon’s new AI-focused priorities. At an event last week, AI was central to many of the company’s updates and new products. Amazon showed off AI-powered improvements to its Alexa home devices that make the voice assistant more conversational and decrease latency — basically, making Alexa more user-friendly in running your home.
This type of investment between Amazon and Anthropic is reminiscent of other agreements between tech giants and smaller AI-focused companies. Microsoft poured $10 billion into OpenAI in January before ChatGPT took off.
Anthropic was founded by ex-OpenAI executives and siblings Dario and Daniela Amodei, and the company has benefited from several successful funding rounds the past two years, including a multimillion dollar investment from Google.
In late July, Anthropic joined OpenAI, Google and Microsoft to unveil a partnership called the Frontier Model Forum that aims to combine the expertise of the industry leaders to “ensur(e) safe and responsible development of frontier AI models,” according to the joint press releases. Since the rapid rise of generative AI tools in the past year, there’s been increased scrutiny of their potential risks and impacts on society.
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