An attendee looks on during a media tour of the new Amazon headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, on September 20, 2023
Generative AI is already used by Amazon to prioritize findings, automate incident responses, and free up the security team for more strategic tasks. AFP News

Amazon has launched a trio of generative AI tools for its Alexa assistant that will enable users to chat with historical figures, create music and take quizzes.

Last year, Amazon announced it had begun working with developers on large language model (LLM) software for its Alexa, becoming the latest major tech company to invest in generative AI.

Generative AI is defined as applications typically built using foundation models.

These models contain expansive artificial neural networks inspired by the billions of neurons connected in the human brain.

Foundation models are part of what is called deep learning, a term that alludes to the many deep layers within neural networks. Deep learning has powered many of the recent advances in AI, but the foundation models powering generative AI applications are a step-change evolution within deep learning.

Yesterday, at the annual CES tech event, Amazon revealed the first three third-party developed tools that Alexa users now have access to.

One is named 'Splash', which functions as a music creation tool.

It will enable users to generate entire songs and then personalise the lyrics and genre, just via voice commands. The results will be sent to their phones.

Another goes by, which will, among other things, make it possible to simulate conversations with luminaries from history.

"Alexa customers can have just-for-fun conversations with different Characters – including getting motivated with fitness coaches, gaining insight from historical figures such as Socrates, receiving book recommendations from Librarian Linda, playing RPGs with Text Adventure Game, and more," the press release says.

Finally, there's an AI-powered spin on 20 questions called Volley, which is described as "a deeper version of the well-known parlour game, which uses generative AI to interact with customers through questions and engaging conversation".

All of the experiences are available to install as Alexa Skills through the device app or website.

So far, AI has dominated this year's CES gathering, described as "the most powerful tech event in the world".

Beginning on Tuesday, and ending today, it has provided the platform for several AI-based inventions to be announced by companies.

Tech manufacturer LG announced the launch of a smart home robot companion.

The little bot doesn't have a name yet, but LG says the droid, which is so far been described as a 'Smart Home AI Agent', will be able to roam freely to help around the house.

From being able to keep an eye on pets, with a real-time camera while you're out, to monitor things like temperature and air quality, LG says the little bot can recognise human emotions and will tell its owners if it finds any issues inside the home.

Meanwhile, South Korean manufacturer Samsung has revealed a new fridge that it says uses AI technology that can help.

The company says the fridge can accurately recognise up to 33 different foods and owners can manually enter best-before dates so that the fridge can track and notify you of ingredients to use first.

It can also connect with a food app, displaying potential meals you can make from the contents inside the fridge on the appliance's video screen. If you're missing that one all-important ingredient, the fridge can also order it for you.

In the gaming world, American software company Nvidia has teamed up with AI developers Convai to reveal non-playable characters (NPCs) controlled by AI in video games.

The technology will allow NPCs to interact with players and their environments in a completely natural way.

It means that if you are, for example, playing an open-world video game where you do something within the environment, the NPC would react completely spontaneously to your actions, whereas before, any reaction would have been scripted and programmed by game developers.

According to Nvidia and Convai, these AI-powered characters will be able to "display emotional awareness, and engage in organic interactions".

A new report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF) this week claimed AI-powered misinformation is the world's biggest short-term threat.

With 2024 being dubbed by many as "the year of elections", their Global Risks Report expressed fears that a wave of artificial intelligence-driven misinformation and disinformation could influence democratic processes and polarise society.

Such a threat is the most immediate risk to the global economy, the document, released annually, concluded.