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Amazon hires AI expert to ward off Google in its cloud business

A former Google researcher will crunch numbers for AWS.

CeBIT 2016 Digital Technology Trade Fair Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

To pitch its cloud storage business, Google is leaning on its artificial intelligence features. Amazon, the market leader, is too.

Now Amazon has recruited a leading expert in the field to up its game. Alex Smola, a top machine learning scientist at Carnegie Mellon University and research alum of Google and Yahoo, is moving over to run the “Cloud Machine Learning Platform” at AWS, he wrote in a post.

His cursory description of the role — "with the task to make machine learning as easy to use and widespread as it could possibly be" — echoes Google’s stated strategy. Both companies are competing for businesses to pay for their cloud services and for researchers with AI expertise.

My favorite nugget of Smola’s announcement: He only posted his full statement, intended just for CMU, because it leaked on Weibo, the social network in China, where machine learning is the rage and where Silicon Valley biggies want to be.

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