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How AWS Stumbled in AI, Giving Microsoft an Opening

AWS CEO Adam Selipsky (left) and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Art by Clark Miller/Photos by Getty
AWS CEO Adam Selipsky (left) and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Art by Clark Miller/Photos by Getty
Aug. 30, 2023 6:00 AM PDT

Long before ChatGPT arrived on the scene last year, Amazon Web Services was developing artificial intelligence software akin to the technology that powers the hit chatbot from OpenAI. AWS had hoped to unveil the software, then known inside the company as Bedrock, at its annual customer conference late last November, but had to postpone it due to technical snags, a person with direct knowledge of the company’s plans said. That ended up being a fortunate decision.

A couple days into the conference, OpenAI released ChatGPT, immediately wowing the tech world with the software’s ability to generate humanlike responses to questions. AWS leaders soon realized Bedrock wasn’t on the same level as OpenAI’s AI software, the person said. But AWS had to do something, its leaders felt. AWS was the No. 1 provider of cloud services, while OpenAI had formed a tight relationship with AWS’ biggest nemesis, Microsoft.

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