Previewing AI at AWS re:Invent 2023
Artificial Intelligence, especially GenAI, has been the dominant theme of the technology industry, and maybe all industries that use technology, for all of 2023. As the year comes to the close, Amazon’s annual re:Invent show is poised to put a bow around a watershed moment for applied AI. I’ll be heading to Vegas with tens of thousands of other technologists with AI at top of mind, looking to hear straight from AWS and other AWS partners as to what breakthroughs, challenges, and emerging business opportunities we can expect in 2024.
I just attended the ICMI Contact Center Expo in October – a much smaller event (400, not 40,000), but even there, AI was pervasive on the show floor and breakout sessions. It was clear there that contact center industry vendors are just at the beginning stages of crystalizing their strategies for product and service offerings enhanced, or even based 100% on, AI. It was also clear that the end users in the room are hungry for solutions that will bring real impact to their businesses. re:Invent will be a much different crowd, but I’m expecting to see much of the same.
I’m writing this article as a guide for other re:Invent attendees who are curious about AI, to help shape their experience.
AWS re:Invent keynotes are strong and powerful, and really set the tone for the whole event. This year, three of the five on the agenda all mention AI in the planned synopses.
- Adam Selipsky, CEO of Amazon Web Services will share his perspective on cloud transformation and highlight innovations in data, infrastructure, and artificial intelligence and machine learning that are helping AWS customers achieve their goals faster, mine untapped potential, and create a better future.
- Swami Sivasubramanian, Vice President of Data and AI at AWS will discuss how you can use your company data to build differentiated generative AI applications and accelerate productivity for employees across your organization.
- Dr. Werner Vogels, Amazon.com’s VP and CTO will discuss best practices for designing resilient and cost-aware architectures and why artificial intelligence is something every builder must consider when developing systems and the impact this will have in our world.
That said, my advice is not to build your schedule around making sure you attend the keynotes in person. The event is spread across such a large area across the whole strip, so you’re much better off watching from a satellite location or on recorded video later. Be sure prioritize Workshops and other hands-on sessions!
GenAI is the number one buzz, for sure, with Open AI dominating the conversation with ChatGPT especially. AI/ML is nothing new for Amazon, however, with capabilities like Amazon Lex and Amazon Comprehend being established technologies for years now. I don’t see any direct mention of Anthropic in any of the conference materials so far, but I’ll be on the lookout for news or features of the emerging LLM player, especially in light of Amazon’s announcement of $4 billion in investment.
In terms of sessions on the schedule, here are a few highlights:
- WORKSHOP: CMP402: Build a generative AI chatbot using your own data with Amazon Titan
- WORKSHOP: DAT303 | Build generative-AI-powered search with Amazon Aurora & Amazon RDS
- WORKSHOP: IMP201 | Amplifying nonprofit donor and member experience with generative AI
- CHALK TALK: AIM357 | Deliver high-grade responses using Amazon Lex with generative AI
- BUILDER’S SESSION: BOA307: Building applications with generative AI an live data
- WORKSHOP: PEX302 | Build intelligent enterprise apps powered by generative AI on AWS
As you can see, there’s a mix of workshops that will get you hands on with the technologies, as well as more broad breakouts and talks that will provide information or perspective from industry leaders.
AI In the Contact Center
One of the most directly applicable business uses of AI is within the contact center or for customer support in general. I mentioned the ICMI event last month, and that is just one example of how AI is already driving business in one sector. With Amazon’s growing investment into their Amazon Connect platform, we’re seeing a direct convergence here. Even back in 2021, AI in the Contact Center was a major theme at re:Invent.
Here are a few featured sessions specifically featuring AI in the Contact Center:
- WORKSHOP: BIZ303 | Leverage real-time contact center insights to improve customer service
- CHALK TALK: BIZ310 | The opportunities and challenges of generative AI in contact centers
- CHALK TALK: BIZ312 | Supercharge customer service with Amazon Connect and AWS Supply Chain
- BREAKOUT: BIZ218 | Personalize omnichannel customer experience with Amazon Connect and AI
- CHALK TALK: BIZ308 | Empower your contact center agents with Amazon Connect & generative AI
- CHALK TALK: BIZ311 | Automate agent evaluations with Amazon Connect and generative AI
I mentioned Amazon’s investment in Anthropic – one of their stated missions is to train their AI to adhere to moral values. Responsible and equitable AI is an emerging field, and I’m looking forward to some sessions focused on this area which goes beyond the boundaries of pure technology and business.
Here are some highlights:
- BREAKOUT: IMP103 | How to build a responsible and sustainable generative AI chatbot
- WORKSHOP: AIM301 | Advancing responsible AI: Toxicity in generative AI
- BREAKOUT: AIM220 | Responsible AI in the generative era: Science and practice
- CHALK TALK: AIM344 | Scaling AI/ML governance
As you can see, the content just surrounding AI at this weeklong event is more than one person can absorb. I know I’m not going to be able to attend all of these, especially while also taking in other content on data warehousing, the latest in serverless computing, and app modernization. I’ll also have to find time for the Expo Hall, community meetups, and other activities. I hear there’s a Pickleball Tournament this year too. Either way, re:Invent is going to be an intense week, hope to see you there!