Amazon nabs AI boffin from Xerox PARC

Ashwin Ram will lead AI R&D department

Amazon has hired Ashwin Ram, an ex-Xerox PARC employee and a researcher in cognitive science, in an effort to step up its AI R&D department.

Although Amazon have not officially released a statement, Ram announced on Twitter that he was “excited to join Amazon.”

A spokesperson from Amazon has confirmed his appointment but refused to provide further comment. Ram is described as Alexa AI senior manager on his LinkedIn profile.

Ram had served as the Chief Innovation Officer at Xerox PARC, a venerate Silicon Valley R&D powerhouse whose noted luminaries include the creators of Ethernet, the world's first WYSIWYG editor, the GUI, the mouse, and laser printing. Along with hothousing talent, PARC is famed for failing to hold onto that talent, allowing its brainboxes to leave to set up their own outside firms or join others.

Amazon's man also has an entrepreneurial streak and is founder of three companies, one of which builds AI software solutions for information analysis.

At Amazon, he will focus on developing Amazon’s Alexa, a voice-powered virtual assistant that lives inside Amazon’s wireless speaker device, Echo.

Amazon plans to advance its AI beyond the capabilities of answering questions and reading audiobooks and turn it into a virtual robot that can help around the house.

Home-tech company Securifi has connected Alexa to its new router, Almond 3. The router acts a hub connecting smart devices around the house through Wi-Fi and will interface with Alexa so lights and switches can be controlled.

Amazon are keen to incorporate the latest technology in its services and products. Apart from using AI for Amazon Echo, it is also exploring the potential use of machine-learning to improve its web service. ®


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