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Cloud Computing Goes Generative: Amazon simplifies generative AI for cloud computing customers.

Amazon aims to make it easier for its cloud computing customers to build applications that take advantage of generative AI.

What’s new: Amazon Web Services’ Bedrock platform is offering new generative models, software agents that enable customers to interact with those models, and a service that generates medical records. The new capabilities are available in what Amazon calls “preview” and are subject to change.

How it works: Bedrock launched in April with the Stable Diffusion image generator and large language models including AI21’s Jurassic-2 and Anthropic’s Claude. The new additions extend the platform in a few directions.

  • Bedrock added two models from Cohere: a model named Command for summarizing, copywriting, and question answering; and one called Embed, which generates embeddings in more than 100 languages. It also upgraded to Anthropic’s Claude 2 and added Stability AI’s newly released Stable Diffusion XL 1.0.
  • The Agents capability enables users to incorporate these models into applications that understand and fulfill requests and take advantage of private data. For instance, an airline booking website could build an agent that takes into account an individual’s travel history, finds suitable flight schedules, and books selected flights.
  • HealthScribe helps to generate medical notes after a clinical visit. Language models transcribe conversations between patients and medical professionals, identify speakers, extract medical terminology such as conditions and medications, and generate summaries. The system complies with United States laws that protect patient information.

Behind the news: Amazon’s major rivals in cloud computing have introduced their own generative-AI-as-a-service offerings.

  • Google Cloud Platform offers access to generative models such as its PaLM large language model and Imagen image generator via the Vertex AI service. Its Generative AI App Builder aims to help users build customized chatbots and search engines.
  • Microsoft Azure offers OpenAI models including GPT-4 and DALL·E 2.

Why it matters: Access to the latest generative models is likely to be a crucial factor in bringing AI’s benefits to all industries. For Amazon, providing those models and tools to build applications on top of them could help maintain its dominant position in the market for cloud computing.

We’re thinking: One challenge to startups that provide an API for generative AI is that the cost of switching from one API to another is low, which makes their businesses less defensible. In contrast, cloud-computing platforms offer many APIs, which creates high switching costs. That is, once you've built an application on a particular cloud platform, migrating to another is impractical. This makes cloud computing highly profitable. It also makes offering APIs for generative AI an obvious move for incumbent platforms.


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