If you’re excited about artificial intelligence and machine learning now, just wait until you see what’s coming around the bend.
Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, the company behind one of the most popular consumer-grade home AI devices on the market — Amazon Echo and its Alexa voice assistant — told The Verge’s Walt Mossberg at the annual Code Conference on Tuesday night that “It’s the first inning. It might even be the first guys up at bat. We’re on the edge of the golden age [of AI].”
Bezos revealed that Amazon was working on Alexa technology for four years behind the scenes before bringing it to market. “There is so much more to come. It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said.
One of the reasons there’s so much more to come in AI from Amazon and others is that, as Bezos sees it, the level of machine learning we currently have is still orders of magnitude different than what humans are capable of.
Voice systems have been a dream of science fiction for decades, noted Bezos, and it’s finally coming true. He cautioned, though, that voice systems like Alexa, which the company has opened to partners with a pair of SDKs, will not mark the end of smartphones. “People have eyes,” he said. Similarly, they like to touch screens. So he sees these voice systems as augmenting technology, but not fully replacing what consumers already like.
Intelligent systems like Amazon’s Alexa rely heavily on vast amounts of personal user data. Bezos believes Amazon gets this right. “If you take the totality of privacy and our ability to store large amounts of info, to use it as costumers actually want us to use it….they genuinely like it.” Without that data, Alexa wouldn’t know as much about you and Amazon, in general, wouldn’t even know your purchase history.
The solution, as Bezos sees it, is transparency. “You have to be clear about what you’re doing. You have to be obviously clear,” he said.
Bezos also foresees a diverse world of AI’s. “There will be a lot of intelligent agents in the world. You may not ask the same AI for everything. Some will be better than others [at certain things].”