Amazon's AI Game: Testing the Limits with Chatbot Assistant and the Ambitious Alexa Plus

Amazon’s AI Game: Testing the Limits with Chatbot Assistant and the Ambitious Alexa Plus

Amazon is testing a new AI chatbot assistant that can answer customer questions about products directly on its mobile app. The feature was discovered by research firm Marketplace Pulse. It allows you to ask specific questions about items, like whether a shirt is good for running or if it fits tall people well. The AI reviews product details and user reviews to generate its answers. This saves customers the trouble of reading through all the reviews themselves.

However, the assistant is limited right now. You can’t ask it to compare items or recommend alternatives. It can only make soft suggestions, like recommending a tandem bike instead of an e-bike for romantic dates. There are also some quirks – the AI sometimes “hallucinates” wrong info or refuses to answer basic questions. Surprisingly, it can also generate Python code, tell jokes, and respond in languages besides English when prompted. But you can’t have free-flowing conversations with it.

It’s unclear how many Amazon users have access to the test. Amazon hasn’t officially commented yet. Meanwhile, Business Insider reports Amazon is also developing a revamped, paid version of Alexa called Alexa Plus, aiming to launch by June 30. It’s meant to be more conversational like ChatGPT. However, development is reportedly struggling, with the AI hallucinating false information. The team may miss the deadline as some argue people won’t want to pay for another Amazon service.

So in summary – Amazon is testing a limited product assistant AI that can summarize reviews to answer shopper questions. But it has some quirks. Amazon is also reportedly building a more advanced, paid Alexa chatbot aimed at real conversation. But the Alexa Plus project is facing development challenges and internal debate over whether customers will pay for it. The launch could be delayed past June 30 as a result.