Amazon says it will invest up to 4 billion dollars in the Artificial Intelligence, AI firm Anthropic, as the online retail giant steps into an AI race dominated by Microsoft, Google and OpenAI.
The success of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a chatbot released last year that can generate poems, essays and other works with just a short prompt, has led to billions being invested in the field.
Amazon had already announced it aimed to soup up its Alexa voice assistant with generative AI, which the firm said would allow users to have smoother conversations.
San Francisco-based Anthropic is seen as a leader in the field and has its chatbot, Claude, a competitor to ChatGPT.
“We have tremendous respect for Anthropic’s team and foundation models, and believe we can help improve many customer experiences, short and long-term, through our deeper collaboration,” said Amazon CEO, Monda Jassy, this Monday, September 25, 2023.
As part of the deal, Anthropic will use Amazon’s chips and its cloud services, the data centres that store and process data on a vast scale, for “mission-critical workloads”.
Amazon said it would take a “minority ownership position” in the AI firm, which has already raised hundreds of millions since it was set up in 2021.
The deal intensifies competition between Amazon and Google, which had earlier opened its cloud services to Anthropic and invested $300 million to acquire 10 per cent of the company.
The models used by AI firms require huge computing power and Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud are among the biggest providers.
Anthropic, seen as one of the most promising of a batch of A.I. start-ups, will use Amazon’s data centres, cloud-computing platform and A.I. chips.
Like OpenAI, Anthropic is a developer of so-called generative A.I., the technology capable of learning from vast amounts of data to create humanlike texts and images. These tools are seen as possessing the potential to automate many tasks, reshaping aspects of the global economy.
Anthropic, which operates a chatbot called Claude, has sought to position itself as one of the industry’s more responsible actors. Its executives have warned that AI could cause tremendous damage to society if not developed carefully. The company’s co-founder, Jack Clark, attended a recent meeting on Capitol Hill to discuss A.I. policy, including the risks and potential of the rapidly evolving technology.
Partnering with Anthropic is a win for Amazon, which is competing against Microsoft and Google in cloud computing and has been trying to establish itself more deeply in A.I. Amazon is also battling Nvidia as a provider of the chips needed to run complex A.I. systems.
The huge amounts of money and computing power needed to run A.I. models have made it nearly impossible for smaller companies to remain independent from established tech giants with deep pockets. Yet while Microsoft has backed OpenAI and Google has partnered with companies including Cohere, Amazon has not been as active in the field until its deal with Anthropic.
“We can help improve many customer experiences, short- and long-term, through our deeper collaboration,” Andy Jassy, Amazon’s chief executive, said in a statement.