Amazon adds AI expert Andrew Ng to its Board of Directors

Amazon made an announcement regarding changes to its Board of Directors. Andrew Ng, renowned for his contributions to AI development at major tech firms, will be joining the board. Simultaneously, Judy McGrath, celebrated for her tenure as a prominent TV executive overseeing MTV and contributing to Viacom’s media dominance, will be stepping down from her directorial position.

Considering Amazon’s significant investment in building an entertainment empire, with expenditures nearing $19 billion in its video and music sector in 2023, it’s notable that McGrath, a key figure in such strategic endeavors, will not seek reelection. This doesn’t imply a decline in Amazon’s influence in streaming entertainment, including video, music, gaming, and other areas. The integration of advertising into Prime Video underscores the company’s commitment to maintaining a satisfied and returning audience.

However, it will be intriguing to observe the outcome of investments in this segment in 2024. Amazon has downsized its studio and video divisions, and has scaled back Prime Video in certain regions, possibly signaling a more streamlined or refined approach to the business in the future. Given the current scrutiny around AI strategies in the tech industry, McGrath’s departure from the board seems timely.

In order to remain at the forefront of technology, Amazon will seek enhanced thought leadership regarding the next phase of its artificial intelligence strategy. It’s noteworthy that Amazon has long been a prominent player in AI, with innovations such as Alexa and Echo devices, autonomous services, machine learning-driven product targeting, and AWS’s significant role in AI computing. Additionally, Amazon is channeling billions into investments in major AI startups.

Ng’s appointment to the board represents a multi-faceted addition: his background spans academia, investing, and hands-on development, often concurrently. Currently, Ng holds positions as an adjunct professor at Stanford, a general partner at the AI Fund venture studio, leads DeepLearning.AI, and is the founder of computer vision startup Landing AI. He also serves as chair of Coursera, an edtech startup he founded and previously led. Ng’s past roles include serving as chief scientist and VP at Baidu, and founding and leading Google Brain, Google’s initial significant venture into AI technology application across its products.

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