Amazon is reportedly working on its own AI chatbot that might be smarter than ChatGPT

Students using a laptop
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Amazon is reportedly working on its own AI chatbot, codenamed “Metis”, that’ll operate in a similar vein to ChatGPT

According to Business Insider, who spoke “to people familiar with the project," the new platform will be accessible through a web browser. They also viewed an internal document revealing the chatbot's potential capabilities. It’ll provide text answers to inquiries in a “conversational manner," give links to sources, suggest follow-up questions, and even generate images. 

So far, it appears that Metis performs just like any other generative AI, but things soon begin to deviate. The company apparently wants to utilize a technique called “retrieval-augmented generation,” or RAG for short. It gives Metis the ability to grab information outside of its original training data, thereby giving the AI a big advantage over its rivals.

ChatGPT, by comparison, works by accessing a data reservoir whenever a user inputs a prompt, but that reservoir has a cut-off date that differs between the service’s models. For example, GPT-4 Turbo has a cut-off date of December 2023. It’s not privy to anything that has happened so far in 2024.

Powering the AI chatbot

It’s unknown if Amazon has implemented RAG at the time of Business Insider’s report. Metis is also slated to function as an “AI agent.” Judging from the description given, it would allow the service to function as a smart home assistant of sorts, “automating and performing complex tasks." This includes but is not limited to turning on lights, making vacation itineraries, and booking flights.

The report goes on to reveal some of the tech powering Metis. The AI runs on a new internal AI model called Olympus, which is supposed to be a better version of Amazon’s “publicly available Titan.” The company even brought people from the Alexa team to help with development. In fact, Metis “uses some of the [same] resources” as the long-rumored Alexa upgrade.

Differing attitudes

Attitudes towards the AI chatbot vary among different parts of the company. Amazon CEO Andy Jassy seems very interested in the project, as he is directly involved with development and often reviews the team’s progress. Others, however, are less enthusiastic. One of the sources told Business Insider that they felt the company was way too late to party. Rival companies are so ahead of the curve that playing chase may not be worthwhile.

The report mentions that Amazon’s ventures into AI have been mostly duds. The Titan model is considered weaker than rival models; their Amazon Q corporate chatbot isn’t great, and there is low demand for their Trainnium and Inferentia AI chips. Amazon needs a big win to stay in the AI space.

Sources claim Metis is scheduled to launch in September around the same time Amazon is planning to hold its next big event. However, the date could change at any time. Nothing is set in stone at the moment.

While we have you, be sure to check out TechRadar's list of the best AI chatbots for 2024.

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Cesar Cadenas

Cesar Cadenas has been writing about the tech industry for several years now specializing in consumer electronics, entertainment devices, Windows, and the gaming industry. But he’s also passionate about smartphones, GPUs, and cybersecurity.