Amazon’s new artificial general intelligence group is already restructuring, just four months after its creation.
The AGI team, led by Amazon’s head scientist and SVP Rohit Prasad, is breaking into six broad areas and offloading some of the Alexa-focused projects to the Devices team, according to an internal email obtained by Business Insider.
In the email from Monday, Prasad said these changes will “help us further sharpen our focus on this mission and deliver faster for our customers.”
“I am very proud of what this organization has already delivered for Alexa and AGI,” Prasad added.
It’s worth noting that on Monday, the tech world was watching OpenAI unravel — the world’s most advanced AI company and the partner of Amazon’s biggest rival, Microsoft — after its non-profit board fired CEO, Sam Altman. Microsoft announced it had hired him (though that’s not yet a done deal) while OpenAI employees threatened to quit en masse and join Microsoft if Altman wasn’t reinstated.
Amazon’s spokesperson didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Amazon’s AGI team wasn’t launched in response to this drama. It was created in July, four months ago, under the goal of building the “most ambitious” large language models, as BI previously reported. Prasad, at the time, was promoted to report directly to Amazon’s CEO Andy Jassy.
While the definition of AGI isn’t widely agreed on, it generally means building machines that are as intelligent, or more so, than humans. This differs from generative AI, which is AI that can produce new creative works, like fiction, emails, websites or art, after studying the patterns of similar works.
Prasad reiterated in his email this week the AGI team’s overarching mission to “build world-class general purpose intelligence services that benefit every Amazon business and humanity.”
Note that, unlike OpenAI, this mission clearly includes “benefit every Amazon business” in front of “humanity.”
The change also follows last week’s job cuts within the AGI team, as BI previously reported. The cuts were part of a broader layoff that primarily affected Amazon’s Alexa team.
The team’s new structure includes six new focus areas for the AGI unit, giving a peek into how Amazon looks to more directly compete with rivals Microsoft and Google in AI. It shows Amazon plans to build its own foundational models as well as AGI conversational assistants and related infrastructure services.
In the meantime, teams that worked on Alexa-focused features, like Alexa Ads, Alexa Personality, and Alexa Routines have moved under the Devices team.
These are the six new teams formed within the AGI unit, as per the internal email:
• AGI Product: defines AGI services and engages with internal customer teams to ensure end-to-end success. • AGI Data Services: builds services for storing, accessing, and manually labeling data for training foundational and specialized Al models with world-class privacy and security for our end customers. • AGI Foundational Models: develops the most competent foundational models (FMs) that can accomplish any task in a safe, secure manner, across any modality. These models will be used by both internal and external customers across all Amazon businesses. • AGI Sensory and Machine Learning Builder Services: builds specialist models and services such as speech recognition, text-to-speech, and computer vision, to power applications such as Alexa, Amazon Search, Fire TV, AWS Polly. • AGI Conversational Assistant Services: develops services to build general-purpose and specialized conversational assistant/agent through orchestration of 1000s of services and devices using situational context to respond to a customer request or take proactive actions on their behalf. • AGI Information: builds infrastructure for acquiring and organizing world knowledge and real-time information for training Al models as well as builds experiences for accessing and acting on any information on any endpoint.
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