Former Amazon executive Dave Limp anticipates that the tech giant may soon levy fees for utilizing its virtual assistant, Alexa. He cites the massive expenses associated with running AI models as the rationale behind this.

However, he concedes that a significant enhancement in Alexa’s performance is a prerequisite to this change.

The cost of operating the next generation of “superhuman” AI models could eventually lead Amazon to impose charges on its users for access to Alexa.

During a discussion with Bloomberg, Dave Limp, Amazon’s outgoing executive, expressed his firm conviction that Amazon might introduce a subscription model for Alexa. The high costs involved in training and executing generative AI models for new features of the smart speaker were stipulated as the causative factor.

He mentioned, “The expenditure for training these AI models and the inference cost of the model in the cloud is substantial when their usage intensifies.”

However, he reassured that the existing version of Alexa will remain free of charge, while any premium variant would need to exhibit enhanced capabilities and utility.

Limp didn’t detail the potential subscription price but did assure that “the current Alexa version will stay free,” and the concept of a subscription-based model “isn’t decades away.”

Running generative AI models necessitates an enormous amount of computational power. Estimates suggest OpenAI’s ChatGPT may consume over $700,000 daily.

Amazon has made huge investments in AI, unveiling a new AI-integrated version of Alexa alongside updated Echo Frames and Carrerra smart glasses recently. Additionally, they have invested up to $4 billion in Anthropic, a competitor to OpenAI.

After 13 years at Amazon, the company’s Senior VP of Devices and Services, Dave Limp, announced he would step down from his role one month before the launch of the latest products. It is rumored that former Microsoft executive Panos Panay is slated to replace him.

An Amazon spokesperson told Insider that the firm expects future iterations of Alexa to offer sufficient value prompting customers to willingly pay for the service. They also highlighted other AI experiences that already have paying users.

They concluded, “As we enhance the capabilities, we intend to understand what customers appreciate—that’s why we aim to get this initial set of features into customers’ hands.”