Jeff Bezos on AI and Large Learning Models

Amazon’s founder has thoughts about AI and how people are missing the point.

Earlier this week, Amazon chief and former CEO Jeff Bezos sat down with podcaster Lex Fridman to discuss his childhood, Amazon’s early days and workplace culture, and where he sees humanity headed going forward with artificial intelligence.

Bezos also commented on artificial intelligence and its real meaning to society. Here’s what the legendary founder of Amazon had to say about AI and its impact on the world.

AI as a “discovery”. If you’re talking about generative AI, large language models, things like ChatGPT, and its soon successors, these are incredibly powerful technologies. To believe otherwise is to bury your head in the sand, soon to be even more powerful.

It’s interesting to me that large language models in their current form are not inventions, they’re discoveries. The telescope was an invention, but looking through it at Jupiter, knowing that it had moons, was a discovery. My God, it has moons. And that’s what Galileo did. And so this is closer to that spectrum of invention. We know exactly what happens with a 787, it’s an engineered object. We designed it. We know how it behaves. We don’t want any surprises. Large language models are much more like discoveries. We’re constantly getting surprised by their capabilities. They’re not engineered objects.

The comment underscores the fact that there’s much even the engineers of large language models don’t understand about where generative AI is coming up with its answers, or the ultimate limits of the technology.

On whether or not AI is good for humanity. Then you have this debate about whether they’re going to be good for humanity or bad for humanity. Even specialized AI could be very bad for humanity. Just regular machine learning models can make certain weapons of war, that could be incredibly destructive and very powerful. And they’re not general AIs. They could just be very smart weapons. And so we have to think about all of those things. I’m very optimistic about this.

So even in the face of all this uncertainty, my view is that these powerful tools are much more likely to help us and save us than they are to on balance hurt us and destroy us. I think we humans have a lot of ways of making ourselves go extinct. These things may help us not do that, so they may save us.

So the people who are overly concerned, in my view, overly, it is a valid debate. I think that they may be missing part of the equation, which is how helpful they could be in making sure we don’t destroy ourselves.

On AI’s impact. “(There’s) a problem. We as a species are not sophisticated enough and mature enough to handle these technologies.

And by the way, before you get to general AI and the possibility of AI having agency and there’s a lot of things would have to happen, but there’s so much benefit that’s going to come from these technologies in the meantime, even before there is general AI in terms of better medicines and better tools to develop more technologies and so on.

So I think it’s an incredible moment to be alive and to witness the transformations that are going to happen. How quickly will happen, no one knows. But over the next 10 years and 20 years, I think we’re going to see remarkable advances. And I am very excited about it.

On Amazon’s Alexa AI tool. We have Alexa and Echo and Alexa has hundreds of millions of installed base inputs. And so there’s Alexa everywhere. And guess what? Alexa is about to get a lot smarter. And so from a product point of view, that’s super exciting.

There are so many opportunities. Shopping assistant, all that stuff is amazing. And AWS, we’re building Titan, which is our foundational model. We’re also building Bedrock, which are corporate clients at AWS. Our enterprise clients want to be able to use these powerful models with their corporate data without accidentally contributing their corporate data to that model. And so those are the tools we’re building for them with Bedrock. So there’s tremendous opportunity here.

The entire two-hour interview is worth a listen. Find it here.

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