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The jury’s still out on whether generative AI is really the game-changing technology it promises itself to be, but until we find that out, every tech company wants in on artificial intelligence. Now it’s Amazon’s turn, for some reason.

Thursday, Amazon announced “Rufus,” its new generative AI bot—sorry, “conversational shopping experience.” According to Amazon, Rufus (named after an early Amazon employee’s corgi) is trained on Amazon’s product catalog, customer reviews, Q&As, as well as shopping data from across the internet. In theory, you should be able to ask Rufus for its thoughts on what you should buy, comparisons between products, as well as for suggestions for new products you haven’t heard of before.

Amazon specifically highlights five use cases for Rufus:

  • Learn more about a product or a product category as you search for something to purchase, so you can make a more informed buying decision.

  • Search for products based on occasion or purpose, to find a product relevant to the situation.

  • Compare product categories, so you can decide between, say, a drip coffee maker or a pour-over.

  • Ask for recommendations on products based on what Rufus thinks is the “best” option.

  • Ask questions about a product while visiting that product’s page. Ideally, Rufus would be faster than you at locating answers to specific questions about a product from the product page.

Am I convinced that Rufus will be particularly useful? No. As we know, AI can be impressive, but it can also be messy, and prone to making things up. It’d be quite a shame to make a big purchase decision based on Rufus’ “insights,” when those insights turn out to be based on nothing. I’m sure Amazon is hopeful, though: Alexa is not the shopping assistant the company wanted it to be, as most users rely on it for queries like “what’s the weather?” among other questions that don’t make any money. I’m sure if Rufus can inspire more users to make more purchases, Amazon will be a happy camper.

Of course, Rufus isn’t the first AI venture for Amazon. The company has dabbled in AI-generated review summaries, and they’ve even allowed sellers to generate product titles and summaries with the tool. Hmm.

How to try Rufus on Amazon right now

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If you’re curious about Amazon’s AI helper, it is rolling out as of this article—although rather slowly. Amazon says the bot will be available to “select customers” when they next update the Amazon Shopping app, and will continue rolling out the experience over the following weeks.

So, your best shot at trying out Rufus as soon as possible is by updating the Shopping app on iOS or Android. There are no settings you need to enable; if you have the update, Rufus will appear after you search for something in the app. You can expand Rufus’ window if you want to continue asking the bot questions, or dismiss the window entirely to get back to a traditional Amazon shopping experience.

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