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Amazon deploys AI to summarize product reviews

Amazon has started using artificial intelligence (AI) to generate summaries of reviews for some of its listings.

The idea is that it will speed up the shopping experience for time-pressed customers who don’t want to trawl through endless reviews left by other shoppers.

The feature was spotted by Mark Wieczorek, chief technology officer at New York City-based marketing agency Fortress Brand.

Wieczorek shared one of the summaries, which includes a note at the end saying: “AI-generated from the text of customer reviews.”

The AI-generated review is for an air purifier and says:

This air purifier has received positive feedback from customers in various aspects. Many customers have praised its ability to clear the air and improve air quality, with some even calling it the best air purifying device. The product is also quiet and effective in removing smells, with customers appreciating its stylish appearance. However, some customers have expressed mixed opinions on its effectiveness in reducing allergies and asthma.

At the current time, the AI-generated summaries are only showing on Amazon’s mobile site, and for select products.

Amazon hasn’t made any public announcement about the new feature but said in a widely reported statement that it is “significantly investing in generative AI” across all of its businesses. Hopefully, some of that investment will lead to AI capable of weeding out fake reviews on the site.

Following the frenzied interest in the new wave of generative-AI products such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard chatbots, companies big and small have been looking at how they can overhaul their businesses using different elements of the powerful technology.

Amazon’s interest in AI was confirmed by the contents of several job ads that it posted last month. One of the listings — for a senior software development engineer — said the company is aiming to overhaul its search process “with an interactive conversational experience that helps you find answers to product questions, perform product comparisons, receive personalized product suggestions, and so much more, to easily find the perfect product for your needs.” This sounds a lot like chatbots such as ChatGPT, which have the ability to converse in a very human-like way.

Another listing was for a senior technical program manager who will work on what Amazon describes as an “AI-first initiative to re-architect and reinvent the way we do search through the use of extremely large scale next-generation deep learning techniques.”

It’s not clear when the changes to Amazon’s search process will be implemented, but the company is evidently determined to deploy AI across its shopping site.

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Trevor Mogg
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