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Amazon plans ‘once-in-a-generation’ changes for Search, job ad reveals

Amazon looks set to jump aboard the generative AI bandwagon with a new project that will involve a “once-in-a-generation transformation for search,” according to a job ad spotted by Bloomberg on Monday.

The listing — now removed by Amazon but accessible via a web-based archive — is for a senior software development engineer and says: “We are reimagining Amazon Search 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.”

The conversational element sounds very similar to the new wave of AI chatbots led by Microsoft-backed OpenAI, whose ChatGPT tool went viral soon after its launch in November. ChatGPT and similar chatbots such as Google’s Bard are able to converse in a very human-like way, and elements of each are being baked into Microsoft’s Bing search engine and Google’s own search tool.

It also makes clear that the company is keen to proceed with the work as soon as possible, saying it needs someone “to help us realize and deliver this vision to our customers right away.”

The base pay for the post ranges from $136,000 per year to $260,000 per year, depending on the successful applicant’s location and the skills they bring to the job, Amazon said.

Another listing, which at the time of writing remains on Amazon’s website, is 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.” This position pays between $119,000 and $231,400 per year.

Amazon notes on this listing that its product search engine is “one of the most heavily used services in the world, indexes billions of products, and serves hundreds of millions of customers worldwide,” so any changes that it brings to search are set to have a major impact on the use of its site.

At this stage, however, it’s hard to say precisely how it will affect shopping habits. But if, for example, the search experience feels more like a conversation and encourages online shoppers to steer clear of trawling through endless lists of returns, it could mean fewer products are viewed, giving more power than ever to Amazon’s algorithm and the results it supplies. That doesn’t sound like great news for sellers who are desperate to have their products viewed, though it could result in a more efficient online shopping experience for customers.

Digital Trends has reached out to Amazon to ask when it plans to launch the new search tool and we will update this article when we hear back.

It’s not just search that Amazon is considering overhauling with AI as the company is also looking to bring AI smarts to Astro, its home robot.

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Trevor Mogg
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