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Amazon’s practices make us worry about its AI shopping assistant

Well, it comes as no surprise that AI just might help you find your next product on Amazon. With the tech industry moving toward more AI, it should come as no surprise that Amazon is using AI to help you buy more products from its site. The company unveiled Rufus, an AI-powered shopping assistant that comes with a lot of potential and a lot of concerns.
If you don’t know what Rufus is, the company unveiled it a few days ago. According to the company, “Rufus is an expert shopping assistant trained on Amazon’s product catalog and information from across the web to answer customer questions on shopping needs, products, and comparisons…” To put it plainly, imagine taking Amazon and ChatGPT and throwing them in a blender. It’s a chatbot geared toward helping you shop more easily on Amazon. It wouldn’t take a crystal ball to protect something like this eventually coming out.
Amazon Rufus seems cool, but it raises concerns
Right now, Rufus is only available to a subset of beta tests. We don’t know how widespread this test is, but we’re sure that a fair amount of shoppers have it.
Rufus doesn’t seem bad until you think about what this chatbot will do. Basically, it sounds like it’s meant to guide your shopping based on information collected across the web, its products, reviews, Community Q&As, Etc. It’s a tool used to potentially help you avoid hours of scrolling through search results to find products. It seems plausible that Amazon could use personal customer data to help guide the results, but the company did not state that.
So, this seems like pretty standard fare for 2024, but why are people concerned? Well, Amazon is currently going through a pretty massive antitrust lawsuit. Right now, the company is swatting accusations that its search algorithm favors its own products over other products. Selling its own products makes it more money than selling products from other companies. We also can’t forget how much money it makes from companies paying to advertise their products on Amazon
So, many people fear that Amazon will live up to the accusations and use Rufus to push its products on customers over others. Also, people believe that Amazon could unfairly favor sponsored products. “You’ll most likely get sponsored results,” stated Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities analyst. “Advertising drives retail and Amazon is no different – why do you think they are generating tens of billions of dollars in advertising a year?”
It’s all about money
We can’t deny that companies are looking for ways to monetize their AI technology. Developing these large AI tools costs billions upon billions of dollars. This is why many companies offering AI tools either charge or plan to charge for them. Google is going to charge for Gemini Advanced, Samsung could possibly charge for Galaxy AI after 2025, and OpenAI has ChatGPT Plus. As for Amazon, the company is going to charge people to use its generative AI tool when it finally launches.
So, it’s definitely conceivable that Amazon could use this tool to help it rake in more money. This is what raises concerns about Amazon and Rufus. However, these are just concerns and accusations. We’ll have to wait and what happens when Rufus officially launches



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