Artificial intelligence (AI) has been all the rage this year, with the biggest names in technology all getting in on the action. Helping spark the AI gold rush in 2023 are recent developments in the field of generative AI, which can create original output, handle repetitive tasks, conduct research, and even write code.
Business executives are scrambling to implement this technology, which promises vast productivity gains, saving companies time and money.
This week yielded several important examples of how big tech plans to capitalize on this technology.
Alexa gets an upgrade
In conjunction with Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) 2023 hardware reveal and the release of new Echo devices, the company announced a generative AI upgrade for Alexa, its voice-controlled digital assistant. In a blog post on its site, Amazon said it's "an even smarter, and more conversational Alexa ... that's been custom-built and specifically optimized for voice interactions" while keeping existing functionality like "getting real-time information, efficient smart home control, and maximizing [users] home entertainment."
Customers will soon get a preview of Alexa's new generative AI capabilities by saying, "Alexa, let's chat" using any new or existing Echo smart devices. Amazon revealed that more than "half a billion" Echo devices have been sold, racking up "tens of millions of interactions every hour."
In addition to making Alexa more conversational and less robotic, Amazon fused input from the Echo device sensors to AI models "that can understand non-verbal cues" such as body language, eye contact, and knowledge of the speaker. The company is also working to reduce latency to reduce Alexa's pause time.
As groundbreaking as it was when Alexa was first released, the novelty has worn off for some users. If Amazon can breathe new life into Alexa, it might also increase demand for its electronic devices and boost sales on its e-commerce site.
Google's AI goes further afield
In a blog post on the company's website, Google announced that it was rolling out Bard Extensions, which integrate with a user's existing Google tools, including Gmail, Docs, Drive, Google Maps, YouTube, and Google Flights and Hotels. The system has the ability to draw inputs from multiple apps and services simultaneously, which helps Bard surface more relevant content for the user.
One of the more useful upgrades will allow Bard to double-check the answers it gives. Users can use Bard's "Google it" button to evaluate and substantiate the content it creates. Bard will also notify the user when it detects contradictory information so it can be verified.
Google said these upgrades come courtesy of the company's latest large language model, Pathways Language Model, PaLM2. The company also noted that it "applied state-of-the-art reinforcement learning techniques to train the model to be more intuitive and imaginative."
By integrating Bard functionality that works directly with Google's existing products -- many of which have more than a billion users each -- Alphabet is making those products even stickier, meaning consumers are more likely to continue using them.
Nvidia scouts its next strategic stronghold
Fresh on the heels of a whirlwind tour earlier this month, Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) CEO Jensen Huang touted the benefits of expanding the company's relationship with India. With a population of 1.4 billion -- which recently surpassed China -- Huang believes India can potentially be "one of the largest AI markets in the world."
Nvidia's graphics processing units (GPUs) have been a key component in developing next-generation AI systems. Recent trade sanctions restrict Nvidia from exporting its most advanced chips to China, as the government fears the technology could be reverse-engineered and deployed in military or cyberwarfare applications.
That makes India an important perspective market for Nvidia, and the company doesn't plan to sit idly by. In a news conference in Bangalore, the chief executive said of the country, "You have the data, you have the talent," adding, "This is going to be one of the largest AI markets in the world." India is currently working to build out its AI infrastructure, and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi cited "the rich potential India offers in the world of AI."
It's worth noting that Nvidia already has four engineering centers and roughly 4,000 engineers in the country -- second only to its workforce in the United States. It will probably be several years before his plans come to fruition. But if and when they do, Huang is working to set the stage for Nvidia's next big production hub and AI chip market.
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Suzanne Frey, an executive at Alphabet, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. John Mackey, former CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Danny Vena has positions in Alphabet, Amazon.com, and Nvidia. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Alphabet, Amazon.com, and Nvidia. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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