The CEO of Amazon.com Inc., Jeff Bezos has said in his annual letter to shareholders that the key to the company's future success lies in Artificial Intelligence (AI.) The 1,700-word letter made it clear that although much of Amazon's current work on machine learning is not well known, the company would be heavily invested in it in the future. He wrote that "changes ushered in by AI will help the companies that embrace them and put up barriers for those that don't." Amazon currently also has some well-known and high-profile projects that have been created as a result of this technology, such as their drone delivery program and Alexa, their home assistant.
Bezos, who is the world's second richest man, also wrote about Amazon Web Services, which offers cloud computing services and affordable tools for those who want to incorporate machine learning technology into their own enterprises. Amazon Web Services is another area of the company which has incorporated AI technology. Last year it was reported that the Seattle-based online retail giant had hired a top machine learning expert, Alex Smola from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to oversee their Cloud Machine Learning Platform with the aim of integrating it into Amazon's services where possible.
"Machine learning" is a type of Artificial Intelligence and enables computers to "learn" without being programmed. It is used in all sorts of technology, from the mundane such as search engines and voice recognition through to high-profile projects, such as self-driving cars. AI technology has also made Amazon Go possible. Currently only open to Amazon employees as it's in beta mode, the Amazon Go store in Washington is an entirely new concept in grocery shopping. The idea is that customers will be able to download an app, then walk into the store, do their grocery shopping and have it charged straight to their Amazon account without the need to pay at a checkout. This is made possible by cameras and sensors in the store. The project has taken over four years of work and was initially expected to open early this year, although that hasn't happened yet and the company has not given any recent updates. The CEO ended his annual letter by promising "much more to come" in the area of AI.