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Amazon Announces Major Investment to Anthropic AI

An Amazon Wearhouse
Amazon invested heavily in Anthropic AI. Credit: Elliott Brown, Wikimedia Commons, CC-BY-SA-2.0-DEE

On Wednesday, Amazon announced it is investing an additional $2.75 billion in Anthropic, bringing its total investment in the artificial intelligence startup to a jaw-dropping $4 billion.

Anthropic is a leading AI company that has been focused for years on developing safe and responsible generative AI models. The substantial investment on behalf of Amazon to Anthropic deepens the strategic collaboration between Jeff Bezos’ company and Anthropic as they continue to work together to push the boundaries of what’s possible with AI.

Purpose of Amazon investment

Through this new mega-deal, Amazon gains a minority ownership stake in Anthropic. This stake of Amazon is now valued at $18.4 billion.

As part of this major collaboration, Anthropic will be allowed to use Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its primary cloud provider for mission-critical workloads. This will include safety research and the development of future foundation models.

Foundation models are large-scale, general-purpose artificial intelligence models trained on a wide range of data using self-supervised learning. After their initial training, foundation models can be adapted (e.g. fine-tuned) accordingly to perform a large variety of tasks across different topics.

The cutting-edge AI models developed by Anthropic, such as the ChatGPT rival Claude, will also be made accessible to AWS customers via Amazon Bedrock. Bedrock is a fully managed service that provides secure and easy access to a wide range of high-performing AI models.

The integration will enable organizations, regardless of their size, to rapidly test, build, and deploy generative AI applications to drive innovation even further.

This massive investment on Anthropic by Amazon is also aimed at accelerating the adoption of advanced generative AI technologies for Amazon’s vast customer base. Amazon is one of the largest businesses in the world after all.

Impact on AI Research by Amazon’s decision

Anthropic might be less known to the wider public, but it has emerged as a pioneer in the field of generative AI. Anthropic is known to the AI world for focusing on developing safe and controllable AI systems. Its flagship chatbot named Claude is seen by experts and users alike as a major rival to the wildly popular ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI.

Earlier in March, Anthropic introduced Claude 3, its most advanced version of AI models to date. According to the company, the top-of-the-line Claude 3 Opus model outperforms OpenAI’s GPT-4 and Google’s Gemini Ultra in numerous key areas such as reasoning, mathematics, and coding, among others.

The strategic collaboration between Amazon and Anthropic paves the way for building even more powerful, safe, and reliable AI models. By combining Anthropic’s cutting-edge research with Amazon’s unmatched scale and AI/ML capabilities, the two companies aim to not just advance the field of AI, but do so in a responsible manner.

The new deal that was finalized and made public on Wednesday now positions Amazon firmly as a central player in the rapidly evolving AI arms race, alongside OpenAI, Google, and Elon Musk’s xAI. With Microsoft going all-in on OpenAI and Google placing its own big bets in their own Gemini project, Amazon made clear to the world that it wants to be placed at the forefront of the generative AI revolution through its partnership with Anthropic.

Technological advancements

As part of this collaboration, Anthropic will most definitely leverage the custom-designed AI chips available by AWS. This includes Trainium and Inferentia to build and deploy its advanced AI models. These extremely specialized processors provide high performance and cost efficiency for compute-intensive AI workloads. They are needed by Anthropic to develop its projects.

Trainium, in particular, is optimized for training large AI models. It offers the highest performance at the lowest cost in the cloud. It is a combination that is very attractive nowadays. Inferentia, on the other hand, is built from the ground up for high-performance, deep-learning inference. By being able to use AWS’s purpose-built AI hardware and software solutions, Anthropic will now be able to train and run its models with better speed and much-needed efficiency.

The tight integration with AWS will definitely also enable Anthropic to scale its models and make them widely accessible to businesses and developers worldwide in a much easier manner. According to Amazon, with just a few lines of code, organizations and businesses alike will tap into the powerful AI capabilities through Amazon Bedrock and build new, innovative applications faster, making Amazon and Anthropic more competitive in the already tough terrain of AI competition.

Partnerships and collaborations

To help businesses adopt new AI technologies responsibly, Amazon and Anthropic have said they are working closely with the leading professional services firm Accenture. As part of this collaboration, over 1,400 Accenture engineers will soon be trained on how to effectively use the models developed by Anthropic on AWS to solve real-world business problems.

This collaboration between Anthropic and Amazon, however, is not new. Several high-profile organizations and businesses are already taking advantage of Anthropic’s AI technology through Amazon Bedrock. These companies leverage the new possibilities offered by AI to transform their operations and become more effective.

US-based Delta Air Lines, for example, is using it to enhance customer service, Germany-based Siemens is applying it for industrial automation that reduces time and costs, and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is employing it to accelerate drug discovery and innovate in the health sector.

Apart from the many commercial applications, Amazon and Anthropic have also declared they want to advance responsible AI development through engagement with key stakeholders and policymakers around the world. As it is known, there are a number of dangers in the uncontrollable development of artificial intelligence. Hence, ethical and controlled development is key to humanity’s well-being and safety. The two companies are actively collaborating with groups like the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and others to help shape best practices and standards for safe and ethical AI.

As the age of artificial intelligence swiftly unfolds before our eyes, collaborations like the one between Amazon and Anthropic will play a crucial and fundamental role in unlocking the immense potential of AI. This, nonetheless, will have to be done whilst ensuring it benefits humanity as a whole rather than the selected few. With their combined expertise and resources, the two companies are now well-positioned not only to push the boundaries of what’s possible with AI but also to set the standard for responsible innovation in this transformative field. Only time will tell if they will be able to achieve that.

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