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Amazon announces Q, an AI chatbot for businesses

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Amazon on Tuesday announced a new chatbot called Q for people to use at work.

The product, announced at Amazon Web Services’ Reinvent conference in Las Vegas, represents Amazon’s latest effort to challenge Microsoft and Google in productivity software. It comes one year after Microsoft-backed startup OpenAI launched its ChatGPT chatbot, which has popularized generative artificial intelligence for crafting human-like text in response to a few lines of human input.

Q is named after the character by the same name in the James Bond movies or the Q character in the Star Trek television shows, depending on which AWS executive you ask.

A preview version of Q is available now, and several of its features are available for free. Once the preview period ends, a tier for business users will cost $20 per person per month. A version with additional features for developers and IT workers will cost $25 per person per month. The Copilot for Microsoft 365 and Duet AI for Google Workspace for business workers both cost $30 per person per month.

Initially, Q can help people understand the capabilities of AWS and trouble-shoot issues. People will be able to talk with it in communication apps such as Salesforce’s Slack and software developers’ text-editing applications, Adam Selipsky, CEO of AWS, said onstage at Reinvent. It will also appear in AWS’ online Management Console. Q can provide citations of documents to back up its chat responses.

The tool can automatically make changes to source code so developers have less work to do, Selipsky said. The service will be able to connect to more than 40 enterprise systems, he said. As a result, with Q, people can discuss information that’s stored in Microsoft 365, Dropbox, Salesforce and Zendesk, along with AWS’ S3 data-storage service. People will also be able to upload and ask questions about documents while interacting with Q.

“AWS Q will be a game changer for AWS customers who have a plethora of service options, oftentimes overlapping to navigate,” wrote Steven Dickens, vice president and practice leader at the Futurum Group, a technology industry research firm. “AWS has resisted the urge to make an AI assistant for each service in its portfolio and, as a result, I expect to see Q become widely adopted in the months ahead by both developers and cloud admins alike.”

Amazon has introduced a handful of end-user applications over the years. There are tools for managing supply chains, email, encrypted messaging, video calling, customer service and marketing outreach. None has been been a runaway hit, and much of the revenue AWS generates comes from core computing and storage services.

Administrators will be able to determine whether Q can answer people’s questions about general topics, said Deepak Singh, an AWS vice president.

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