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  • Hugo Walker

Amazon UK boss compares "transformational" impact of AI to the creation of the internet

In a recent talk, John Boumphrey likened the emergence of generative AI as a technological leap forward on par with the then-groundbreaking creation of the internet.

Speaking at LIVE 2024, Mr Boumphrey — the UK country manager of Amazon — emphasised the transformational impact of generative AI on the retail industry. AI has the power to drive a shift that could redefine shopping, selling, and work as we know it. From product development and design, supply chain management, stock management, demand forecasting and advertising, AI has the potential to be harnessed in all areas of business. In the US, Amazon has launched a gen-AI driven shopping assistant.

But what does gen-AI mean for workers? The fear of machine learning replacing people’s jobs is a valid fear that has cropped up in public consciousness, and for good reason. However, labour and technology do not have an interchangeable, 1-in-1-out relationship. It makes more sense to see the relationship between AI and labour, or people and technology, as a coevolution.

Workers will change, adapt and expand to the new opportunities opened up by generative AI and the next generation of technological advancements. Mr Boumphrey concluded that “investment in capital, such as spending on robots or Gen-AI should always be looked at alongside investments in people”.


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