Amazon has made dozens of updates and improvements to its Echo system to not only make it more functional, but also to make Alexa sound more human. The result so far has been to change her originally somewhat drab voice into a much more pleasant, natural-sounding one. Now even more improvements have been made on that front.
At the re:Mars conference, Amazon demonstrated the implementation of a new feature: The ability to ask Alexa a series of questions without repeating her name each and every time. The demonstration showed a user ordering movie tickets by asking, “Alexa, what movies are playing nearby?” After Alexa answered the question, the user went on to choose what movie they wanted, buy the tickets, and make plans for the rest of their night.
This system is similar to Google’s algorithm in that it doesn’t require constant input from the user to continue operating the system. The difference is that Google can remember prior questions, but still requires the user to say “Hey, Google,” each time. Alexa takes things one step further by using an algorithm that guesses the user’s next question.
This feature is still in its early stages but is expected to go live in the coming months. The new algorithm has made the Alexa 20% more accurate in answering questions, according to Amazon. This means that users can have a more natural, more fluid chat with Alexa that doesn’t have that stilted, artificial quality.
The service is being extended to developers with a new tool called Alexa Conversations. The tool allows developers to set a series of actions and an example conversation or two, and then it will run a simulator that creates potential conversations that will let the Alexa system guess what users might say and shorten potential interactions.
While these may seem like minor changes, steps like this bring us that much closer to more realistic A.I. When the day comes that you can have a conversation with your smart assistant as though it were an actual person instead of a simulated robot, it will start to seem like a part of the family.
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