Amazon.com (AMZN, -1.79%) this week announced a flurry of new machine learning features for its Amazon Web Services cloud computing business, raising its challenge to Silicon Valley’s biggest tech firms for the lead in artificial intelligence.
The new offerings will enable AWS customers to develop and quickly “train” their own artificial intelligence algorithms, build software applications capable of translating language on the fly, analyze video, and scan text for trends or key phrases.
Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to machines carrying out tasks that are normally associated with human intelligence. Machine learning (ML) is a subset of AI in which sophisticated computer algorithms are developed to recognize patterns in large volumes of data to solve problems on their own.
For example, with two of the new AWS features a company could quickly transcribe customer phone calls and then analyze the text for customer sentiment.
Already Apple (AAPL, -1.67%) Facebook Inc (FB, -1.77%), Amazon and other top tech companies are developing and using AI for their own products, but the new offerings from AWS could make it easier and more affordable for startups and less tech-savvy enterprises to implement AI technology.
The product announcements, made at AWS’s annual conference in Las Vegas, cap off a year in which Amazon released 1,300 new AWS features, up from a little more than 1,000 in 2016.
“As always, Amazon is making it easier for companies to get started using new technologies,” said Mikhail Naumov, co-founder of DigitalGenius, a London-based customer service startup that uses AI. “Now they are making it easier for companies of all sizes to leverage powerful ML tools in their business.”
Despite being the pioneer and dominant player in the cloud computing market, AWS is playing catch-up to chief rivals Microsoft Corp (MSFT, -0.58%) and Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOG, -1.70%) when it comes to new AI offerings, several of which will not be generally available until sometime in 2018.