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Amazon is secretly building a ChatGPT competitor, and it isn't Alexa

Would you pay for Amazon's chatbot?
By

Published onJune 26, 2024

Amazon logo on phone next to Echo Dot speaker
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • After showcasing an upgraded Alexa last year, Amazon has also started working on a ChatGPT competitor.
  • Codenamed Metis, the chatbot is based on Amazon’s rumored Olympus language model.
  • Metis is currently being tested internally, with a launch planned for later this year.

Amazon has been working on a more capable version of Alexa for a while now, but a new leak has revealed that the company is also secretly developing a full-blown competitor to ChatGPT. According to a Business Insider report, the chatbot project is known as Metis internally and uses the company’s rumored Olympus large language model.

The Olympus model first broke cover late last year, when rumors indicated that it would have two trillion parameters — about twice as large as GPT-4. In machine learning, parameters are the fundamental units of the model’s inputs and outputs. A higher parameter count could signal a more capable model, but response quality also depends on other factors like the dataset used during training.

According to the report, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy is personally involved in the chatbot project and only recently reviewed its progress. While we don’t know when Amazon will acknowledge Metis’ existence yet, it’s currently undergoing internal testing. A public debut is expected in September, or around the same time as Amazon’s annual fall hardware event.

While Google, Meta, and Apple have already announced and released their respective large language models, Amazon is one of the only Big Tech companies that has yet to offer consumer-focused generative AI services.

Another recent report alleged that Amazon struggled to get its Alexa AI efforts off the ground due to differing visions among teams, lack of high-quality datasets, and mismanagement. More concerningly, a former Amazon researcher called Olympus “a joke” and said that the model was far off from its 2 trillion parameter benchmark. Other former employees also admitted that the company didn’t have enough GPUs on hand to train modern large language models (LLMs).

According to Business Insider’s sources, Metis will be an autonomous AI agent that’s capable of executing tasks on its own accord. This sounds like a tall order, however, as Amazon’s teams reportedly struggled to teach its Alexa LLM music and smart home control as recently as last year. Nevertheless, the source states that Metis will be able to fetch real-time data like stock prices when it releases.

An LLM with as many parameters as Olympus will be computationally expensive to operate. This might explain why we recently heard rumors of a planned $5 or $10 monthly subscription to use the upcoming revamped Alexa. It remains to be seen whether Metis will be locked behind a similar subscription.

Would you pay to use Alexa if it were better than the current Alexa?

152 votes
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