Highlights from Adam Selipsky's AWS re:Invent 2023 Keynote

by Ken Pagano, Senior Customer Solutions Architect, Rackspace Technology



Expectations for Adam Selipsky's keynote at AWS re:Invent 2023 were high, and he exceeded them by delivering insights into how AWS is enabling businesses to transform through innovation. With a focus on the practical applications of generative AI (GenAI) and advancements in machine learning and data mining, Selipsky demonstrated how these technologies are accelerating business goals and uncovering previously untapped potential. Over the course of two hours of engaging announcements, complemented by a roster of influential guest speakers, he illustrated AWS's ongoing commitment to enhancing cloud capabilities and driving the evolution of AI in various industries.

Selipsky’s entire keynote was centered around generative AI and the GenAI stack. Before he dug into some of the newer and more sophisticated GenAI capabilities that were being introduced, he first spent a few minutes justifying why customers have chosen AWS as the platform of choice to do it on, and he explained how the platform differs from other cloud platforms. Selipsky detailed AWS's commitment to foundational investments in its platform, such as enhancing stability and expanding compute capacity. These strategic developments are critical for supporting the intensive workloads demanded by advanced GenAI applications and their continued evolution.

Processor and GPU updates

Selipsky’s first big announcement was the launch of Amazon S3 Express One Zone, a new offering designed to deliver up to 10x better performance than the S3 Standard storage class. This service is engineered to handle hundreds of thousands of requests per second while maintaining consistent single-digit millisecond latency. He then announced the advanced capabilities of R8g Instances powered by Graviton 4 for EC2, and innovative NVIDIA GPU applications for GenAI that revolutionize model training and inferencing.

Jensen Huang, NVIDIA’s Founder and CEO, took the stage as the first guest speaker. He charted the evolution of ARM processors from their inception to their current, staggering capabilities, which are now accessible on AWS.

Advanced model building and an emphasis on responsible AI

Moments later, AWS SageMaker took center stage. Selipsky highlighted the extensive range of model-building options available on AWS, acknowledging the diversity of functional models (FMs) and emphasizing the need for organizations to customize their AI tools according to specific requirements — as no single model will suit every scenario.

Dario Amodei, CEO and Co-Founder of Anthropic, then took the stage, discussing the advancements of Claude 2.1, particularly its capability to reduce hallucination rates by half. He also stressed the importance of using GenAI responsibly, focusing on the essential aspects of safety and ethics in AI development.

Midway through the keynote, Selipsky announced the general availability of Agents for Amazon Bedrock. He also introduced Guardrails for Amazon Bedrock, a feature designed to enhance the safety of AI applications by adhering to an organization's policies and restrictions.

The use of AI in healthcare R&D

The third guest speaker was Lidia Fonseca, Chief Digital and Technology Officer at Pfizer, who spoke about her company’s dependency on AWS, and how Pfizer was able to create the Coronavirus vaccines by harnessing the demanding compute capabilities that it needed to train extensive models for R&D.

AI and code generation

Next, Selipsky spoke of the innovative ways developers are now using GenAI for code generation, showcasing tools like Amazon CodeWhisperer that are transforming mundane coding tasks. This AI-powered tool offers code suggestions directly in the developer’s preferred IDE. While CodeWhisperer has been available for some time, the recent enhancement with the CodeWhisperer Customization Capability, announced last month, was re-emphasized to highlight GenAI's growing impact on the developer community.

An even more significant innovation discussed by Selipsky was Amazon Q, a first-of-its-kind, GenAI-powered work assistant tailored to individual business needs. Alongside Amazon Q, the Amazon Q Code Transformation feature was introduced, capable of reducing the time it takes to upgrade Java from months to mere days. AWS’s Dr. Matt Wood demonstrated its impressive capabilities, including its ability to troubleshoot services directly in the AWS console. Further expanding its utility, Amazon Q was announced to integrate with Amazon QuickSight and Amazon Connect.

Zero-ETL integration, BMW’s use of AI and keynote wrap-up

The keynote continued with four groundbreaking announcements heralding a future of Zero-ETL Integrations with Amazon Redshift (extract, transform, load) integration. These new integrations with Redshift now extend to Aurora MySQL, Aurora PostgreSQL, RDS for MySQL and DynamoDB. In addition, a zero-ETL integration between DynamoDB and the OpenSearch service was unveiled.

Stephan Durach, SVP of Connected Company Development and Technical Operations at BMW Group, came onto the stage as the final guest speaker. During his ten-minute presentation, Durach shared insights into how BMW is leveraging a massive data lake on AWS. He highlighted the company's strides in enhancing the driving experience through panoramic vision capabilities, enabled by a connected vehicle and AI platform. This platform includes features like an Alexa-style intelligent personal assistant, Fire TV integration and an automated driving system.

The session concluded with a bang when Selipsky spoke to Project Kuiper. This ambitious initiative aims to broaden global broadband access through a network of over 3,000 satellites in low Earth orbit. Project Kuiper is focused on bringing connectivity to unserved and underserved communities worldwide, marking a significant step in global digital inclusion.

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