Amazon has named its latest AI chatbot after a dog that belonged to two of the company’s earliest workers.
The e-commerce giant launched a new AI-powered shopping assistant called Rufus on Thursday — and the chatbot shares a name with Amazon’s first four-legged “employee.”
Rufus belonged to Susan Benson, Amazon’s former editor-in-chief, and her husband Richard, who was an engineer. The corgi was apparently a fixture in the offices during the early days of the company.
A note on Amazon’s website describes him as its “shortest volunteer worker,” and employees would even click his paw on a computer mouse to launch some of Amazon’s early web pages.
Amazon named one of the buildings in its Seattle headquarters after the corgi, which died in 2009. There are pictures of him throughout its offices, including one hailing Rufus as Amazon’s “official switch thrower.”
According to Brad Stone’s book “The Everything Store,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once described him as “a very sweet dog,” but “not bold.”
Whether Rufus’ AI counterpart will be so well liked remains to be seen.
The shopping assistant is designed to answer questions about items, recommend products, and improve search by providing a more personalized chatbot-style interface.
Business Insider previously reported that Amazon was exploring overhauling its search experience with AI-powered features codenamed “Project Nile,” with senior executives including CEO Andy Jassy backing the initiative.
Rufus is still in beta testing, but could be rolled out within weeks.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from BI, made outside normal working hours.
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