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Amazon Strengthens AI Development by Hiring Executives from Adept and Licensing Its Technology

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Lauren Miller

July 1, 2024 - 08:00 am

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Amazon Hires Top Executives from Adept and Licenses AI Technology

Amazon has made a significant move to bolster its artificial intelligence capabilities by hiring top executives from the AI agent startup Adept, the company has confirmed. As part of this strategic deal, Amazon will license technology from Adept, which includes some of its advanced AI models and datasets. This development is part of Amazon's broader effort to stay competitive in the rapidly evolving AI landscape by developing new services and investing in AI ventures such as the OpenAI competitor Anthropic.

Amazon Ramps Up AI Development

Amazon is intensifying its focus on artificial intelligence technology by acquiring top talent from Adept, an AI agent startup, and securing the rights to use Adept's cutting-edge technology. Rohit Prasad, a senior vice president and head scientist responsible for Amazon’s artificial general intelligence (AGI) unit, shared in a memo to employees that the company has hired Adept co-founder and CEO David Luan, along with other key team members, to join Amazon’s AGI team. This strategic hiring aims to enhance Amazon's AGI Autonomy division, with Luan overseeing the division and reporting directly to Prasad.

Amazon Faces Stiff AI Competition

Amazon's move to strengthen its AI capabilities comes amid fierce competition from tech giants Microsoft and Google, who are rapidly integrating new AI features into their core products and expanding access to large language models through their cloud offerings. Despite Amazon's cloud unit launching a variety of AI services, these efforts are generally seen as trailing behind those of its top competitors. To bridge this gap, Amazon has invested billions in Anthropic, an OpenAI competitor, and is planning a significant update to its Alexa voice assistant, introducing a new paid version with generative AI capabilities.

Leadership Changes at Amazon

In addition to enhancing its AI technology, Amazon has seen recent changes in its leadership. Last month, Amazon announced that Adam Selipsky, the head of Amazon Web Services (AWS), would be stepping down and would be succeeded by Matt Garman, the head of sales and marketing at AWS. These leadership changes come as Amazon continues to navigate the competitive AI landscape and implement strategic initiatives to bolster its AI development.

Competitor Moves in AI Talent Acquisition

Amazon's hiring of Adept executives is reminiscent of moves made by competitors like Microsoft. In March, Microsoft hired Mustafa Suleyman, a co-founder of Google’s DeepMind and leader of startup Inflection AI, along with several of Inflection’s top executives. Microsoft’s licensing of Inflection’s technology has attracted the attention of the Federal Trade Commission, which is investigating whether the deal was structured to avoid antitrust review.

Adept's Founding and Achievements

Adept was founded in 2022 by former engineers from OpenAI and Google and quickly gained backing from major players like Microsoft and Nvidia, reaching a valuation of over $1 billion by early 2023. Adept operates in the burgeoning space of AI agents, developing tools capable of completing complex tasks without human intervention. The startup was reportedly working on an agent that can perform actions on a computer, such as navigating webpages and logging data on behalf of the user.

Amazon’s Licensing of Adept’s Technology

As part of the agreement announced on Friday, Amazon will license Adept’s technology, including its multimodal models and datasets. This strategic move aims to accelerate Amazon’s roadmap for building digital agents capable of automating software workflows. Prasad noted that Amazon is using Adept's technology under a non-exclusive license, allowing the company to leverage Adept's expertise in training state-of-the-art multimodal foundational models and building practical AI solutions for both consumer and enterprise customers.

Adept’s Continued Operations

Despite the significant hiring of its key executives by Amazon, Adept will continue to operate as a standalone company. In a blog post, Adept confirmed the move and explained that developing its own AI models would have required substantial capital. The partnership with Amazon allows Adept to focus on building advanced AI agents while benefiting from the resources and support of a tech giant.

Future of AI at Amazon

Amazon's aggressive approach to enhancing its AI capabilities through strategic hires and technology licensing is a clear indication of its commitment to staying at the forefront of AI development. With the addition of David Luan and his team, Amazon is well-positioned to advance its AGI initiatives and compete more effectively with rivals like Microsoft and Google. The continued investment in AI and the planned overhaul of the Alexa voice assistant further demonstrate Amazon's dedication to integrating AI into its core offerings and delivering innovative solutions to its customers.

Conclusion

Amazon’s strategic hiring of executives from Adept and the licensing of Adept’s technology mark a significant step in the company’s efforts to strengthen its AI capabilities. As Amazon continues to navigate a competitive AI landscape, these moves are expected to accelerate the development of advanced AI technologies and enhance Amazon’s ability to offer practical AI solutions to both consumers and businesses. The future of AI at Amazon looks promising, with a focus on developing digital agents, advancing AGI, and maintaining a competitive edge in the rapidly evolving tech industry.