Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos appeared this week at the Internet Association‘s annual gala in Washington, D.C., taking part in a wide-ranging discussion about the online economy, media coverage of Amazon, the company’s business principles, and even going off topic a bit to discuss his Blue Origin space venture.
But Bezos seemed especially energized when Internet Association CEO Michael Beckerman asked him about artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“It is a renaissance, it is a golden age,” Bezos said. “We are solving problems with machine learning and artificial intelligence that were in the realm of science fiction for the last several decades. Natural language understanding, machine vision problems, it really is an amazing renaissance.”
So how does Amazon see this playing out? Here’s what Bezos said.
“Machine learning and AI is a horizontal enabling layer. It will empower and improve every business, every government organization, every philanthropy — basically there’s no institution in the world that cannot be improved with machine learning. At Amazon, some of the things we’re doing are superficially obvious, and they’re interesting, and they’re cool. And you should pay attention. I’m thinking of things like Alexa and Echo, our voice assistant, I’m thinking about our autonomous Prime Air delivery drones. Those things use a tremendous amount of machine learning, machine vision systems, natural language understanding and a bunch of other techniques.
“But those are kind of the showy ones. I would say, a lot of the value that we’re getting from machine learning is actually happening beneath the surface. It is things like improved search results. Improved product recommendations for customers. Improved forecasting for inventory management. Literally hundreds of other things beneath the surface.
“The most exciting thing that I think we’re working on in machine learning, is that we are determined, through Amazon Web Services — where we have all these customers who are corporations and software developers — to make these advanced techniques accessible to every organization, even if they don’t have the current class of expertise that’s required. Right now, deploying these techniques for your particular institution’s problems is difficult. It takes a lot of expertise, and so you have to go compete for the very best PhDs in machine learning and it’s difficult for a lot of organizations to win those competitions. We’re in a great position, because of the success of Amazon Web Services, to be able to put energy into making those techniques easy and accessible. And so we’re determined to do that.
“I think we can build a great business doing that, for ourselves, and it will be incredibly enabling for organizations that want to use these sophisticated technologies.”
Amazon is one of several tech giants offering artificial intelligence services via the cloud, including Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud, but AWS’s position as the top public cloud vendor makes the company a force to be reckoned with in AI and ML.
Watch the full video of Bezos’ talk above.