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Amazon beefs up AI development, hiring execs from startup Adept and licensing its technology

Amazon is ramping up its development of artificial intelligence technology, hiring top talent from AI agent startup Adept and licensing the company's technology.

Rohit Prasad, a senior vice president and head scientist who oversees Amazon's artificial general intelligence unit, wrote in a memo to employees on Friday that the company hired Adept co-founder and CEO David Luan and "a few other deeply talented team members to our AGI team."

Luan will oversee Amazon's "AGI Autonomy" division, and report to Prasad, he wrote in the memo, which CNBC obtained. Amazon confirmed the contents of the memo. Geekwire was first to report on it.

Amazon faces fierce competition in AI, as rivals Microsoft and Google rapidly add new features into their core products while also giving businesses more ways to access large language models in their public cloud offerings. Amazon's cloud unit has launched a range of AI services, including its own models, which are generally viewed as lagging behind the top competitors.

Amazon has also pumped billions of dollars into OpenAI competitor Anthropic, and it's planning to overhaul its Alexa voice assistant with a new paid version that has generative AI capabilities. Prasad, who previously served as a head scientist for Alexa, was tapped in August to steer Amazon's development of AGI, or software that's significantly more advanced than current AI and starts to approach human-level capabilities.

Last month, Amazon announced Adam Selipsky, the head of Amazon Web Services, would be stepping down and succeeded by Matt Garman, the head of sales at marketing at AWS.

Talent wars are heating up across the industry.

Microsoft in March hired Mustafa Suleyman, a cofounder of Google's DeepMind who went on to lead