Leaked email shows Amazon formed a new group to work on the ‘most ambitious’ AI models

  • Amazon CEO Andy Jassy promoted Rohit Prasad, SVP and head scientist for Alexa, to his direct report.
  • Prasad is now running a newly created AI team at Amazon.
  • The company is rushing to keep pace with OpenAI, Google and Microsoft in the AI race.

Insider has learned that Amazon CEO Andy Jassy now has direct oversight of a new group working on the company’s most ambitious artificial intelligence project.

Jassy informed Amazon’s S-team, a group of over two dozen top executives, that he promoted Rohit Prasad, SVP and head scientist for Alexa, to be his direct report. According to an internal email obtained by Insider, Prasad will lead a newly formed group working on the company’s “most ambitious” large language models.

LLMs are the underlying technology for AI tools that learn from massive datasets to generate human-like responses. Companies such as OpenAI, Google, and Meta have built massive, powerful LLMs that have wowed the tech world. Amazon has its own, such as Alexa Teacher Model and Titan.

In the late-June email, Jassy stated that Prasad would lead a “central team” responsible for developing Amazon’s “most expansive” LLMs.

“Short note to share that Rohit is going to move to a new role leading a central team building our most expansive Large Language Models,” Jassy said in an email. “While we’ve built several LLMs around the company and have several others in flight, we’re going to pool some resources centrally to build our most ambitious LLMs — and Rohit will lead this team.” Rohit will report to me in his new role.”

Amazon’s spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

As previously reported by Insider, Amazon is scrambling to respond to the sudden rise of generative AI. While Amazon has been working on various AI technologies for decades, competitors such as Microsoft, OpenAI, and Google have jumped ahead. Meta’s latest Llama 2 model is also making waves in the industry.

As part of its AI effort, Amazon recently established a new AWS team focused on assisting customers in using generative AI, as previously reported by Insider. AWS also announced new AI products such as Bedrock, a service that makes other foundational models accessible, and Code Whisperer, an AI coding tool that will be available in 2022.

Prasad has been a top executive on the Alexa team for over ten years, and Amazon has recently launched a new project to make Alexa smarter and more personal using ChatGPT-like technologies, as previously reported by Insider.

Prasad was also a member of Dave Limp’s Amazon devices and services team, and he will remain involved in that area of the business. Limp told his team shortly after Jassy’s announcement in June that Prasad would remain a “key partner and champion of Alexa and play an important role in the future of our business,” according to a separate email obtained by Insider. According to the email, Daniel Rausch, a devices VP, will take on the Alexa product and business organizations, including the entertainment, partner engagement, and international teams.

“Our mission and vision for Alexa are unchanged, and I am more optimistic than ever about our ability to invent for customers,” Limp said in an email.

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