Let Alexa organize your life for you!

When Amazon introduced a first generation of Echo, Alexa was able to fulfill simple desires of people such as telling a weather forecast or sounding morning alarms.

Now, after five years those simple desires became just the minor capabilities of Amazon’s product. Alexa is able to control more than 85 000 smart home products and execute 100 000 so called „skills”. Moreover this voice assistant processes billions of interactions every week which lets it generate enormous quantities of data about its users. Despite all of this, Amazon claims that this all is just a beginning.

Rohit Prasad, vice president and head scientist of Amazon Alexa, has revealed some information where the project is headed next. It turns out that the main goal for this voice assistant is to not only passively execute orders but to predict what the user might want or need. Alexa will now become a tool for shaping and organising your life or at least helping you with it. In order to achieve that goal, Alexa will need to know a lot more about you.

In September, Amazon launched a series of „on the go” Alexa products, such as Echo Buds (earphones) and Echo Loop („a smart ring”). They let Alexa gain significantly larger quantities of information about you, your daily habits and your life in general.

However Alexa will also require updates to process and use all of this information. Prasad’s team is working on developing things like basic voice and video recognition or improving language understanding.  They are also aiming to develop Alexa’s predicting and decision-making abilities and higher-level reasoning. Alexa will be learning which skills are typically used together and than make predictions based on that knowledge. For example, if many users order food when watching movies, Alexa will recommend those things in conjunction.

Sometimes you might ask Alexa through your home Echo device to send you some notifications, for example about your open stock positions. Whenever it is time to do so, you might not be at home. Alexa will then (already knowing that it was you and not another member of your family or your roommate, thanks to voice recognition) find out where you are, based on your last used Echo-enabled device. For example, if you will be driving the car, Alexa will send the notification directly to your car.

A new software is currently being tested. Alexa will work like this:

Alexa recognizes which of 100 000 skills the user wants to use -> Alexa analyzes the context in which it is used (who is the user, what device is he/she using, where) -> Alexa chooses how to react based on user’s previous choices.

All of this sounds like an amazing achievement, and from the scientific point of view it undoubtedly is. On the other hand, many people may be worried about their privacy, as Alexa will be following them everyday and everywhere.

 

References:

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/614676/amazon-alexa-will-run-your-life-data-privacy/

https://www.technologyreview.com/f/614436/amazons-new-products-show-it-wants-alexa-to-always-be-with-you/

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Kalemba Kuba

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