AWS is ready to power AI agents that can handle busywork instead of just chatting


During the AWS Summit in New York on Wednesday, Amazon launched Agents for Bedrock, which will let companies build AI apps that can automatically do tasks on their own, like booking a flight for users instead of just telling them about it. AI agents are the assistant that actually gets a restaurant reservation instead of just giving suggestions on where to eat.

“I believe this will supercharge developers who wanted an easier way to build agents and at the same time customize the data the models read,” Swami Sivasubramanian, vice president of data and machine learning at AWS, tells The Verge. “Building agents took so much time even with how advanced generative AI is now, but we’re making it so developers can access exactly the models they need.”

AI agents are the dream for AI developers, where the power of code meets its ultimate goal, to do things humans don’t want to do

Generative AI models like GPT-4 or Llama 2 are powerful but do not actually automate some tasks for users without extra help, like plug-ins. With agents, a travel company could use generative AI to suggest trips, then build one agent that will take in a user’s travel history and interests, another agent that finds flight schedules, and finally, an agent that books the chosen flight.

Amazon, along with other AI companies like Meta, Google, and OpenAI, signed an agreement with the White House last week pledging to develop responsible AI. 

Amazon itself hasn’t been a big player in the generative AI arms race in the way Meta, Google, OpenAI, and Microsoft have been. Still, it has positioned itself, via AWS, as a key infrastructure provider to the space. StabilityAI and Anthropic released new versions of their large language models, Stable Diffusion XL 1.0 and the chatbot Claude 2, that are now available on Bedrock. 

Agents for Bedrock is aimed at startups and enterprises, letting companies use their own data to teach foundational models, like image-to-text models or large language models, and then build additional apps to finish tasks. A developer can choose which foundational model to use, provide some instructions, and choose which data for the model to read.

Other tech companies are also working on agents; Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg told investors there’s an opportunity to bring AI agents “to billions of people in ways that will be useful and meaningful.” OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, in a wide-ranging interview with The Atlantic, ruminated on AI agents and how to approach their creation best. 

Bedrock, a platform where organizations can access foundational generative AI models like Stable Diffusion, Claude, Jurassic, and Amazon’s own Titan language, was launched in April this year. 

Other AWS announcements included bringing generative AI to healthcare through a new service called AWS HealthScribe and a partnership with Nvidia allowing AWS to handle larger amounts of memory and data by using Nvidia H100 Tensor Core GPUs.

AWS HealthScribe automates clinical documentation, basically notes summarizing a patient’s complaint, and makes medical notes for diagnosis. AWS partnered with 3M Health Information System to deploy the tool. Sivasubramanian said using generative AI to create clinical documentation saves time for healthcare professionals and lets them interact with more patients. 

Bringing AI to healthcare, though, will be fraught. Healthcare is one of the most regulated spaces in the US. AI companies face questions about privacy protection and security. Data privacy is one of the main focuses of the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation into OpenAI. AWS reiterated that HealthScribe is HIPAA-eligible and will not use results from HealthScribe to train the tool. 

“Healthcare is one of the spaces where AI can dramatically reduce the burden on people,” Sivasubramanian said.

AWS made its machine learning-powered analytics tool, Entity Resolution, that helps people analyze and match documents across applications generally available. AWS also made its code assistant CodeWhisperer available in Glue Studio — a platform that simplifies coding for data analysts — to allow access for data engineers and analysts. It gives code suggestions in real time. 

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