Amazon’s Alexa will ask humans questions using a new ‘teachable’ AI to help the virtual assistant improve its conversation skills
- Amazon announced new Alexa features during its annual product event
- The firm is adding AI to the virtual assistant to improve its communication skills
- Alexa will now ask users questions to fill in gaps when it does not understand
- This will also help the virtual assistant better understand its owners
- Users do not have to say a wake word to activate Alexa as before
- Alexa will use acoustic, linguistic and visual cues to determine how to respond
Amazon just gave Alexa a mind of its own by enabling it to ask humans questions.
The tech giant is set to add ‘teachable’ artificial intelligence to the virtual assistant, allowing it to ask questions in order to understand the contextual conversation and learn from its owners.
During the firm’s annual product launch event, Amazon also introduced natural turn taking, which allows users to speak to Alexa with using a wake wording to provide ‘more natural and expressive’ conversations.
Rohit Prasad, vice president of Amazon, said: ‘You can ask ‘Alexa, join my conversation,’ and Alexa will join in the conversation to help you and friend decide what pizza to order, or get a movie recommendation for a night at home with your family.’
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Amazon is set to add ‘teachable’ artificial intelligence to the virtual assistant, allowing it to ask questions in order to understand the contextual conversation and learn from its owners
Prasad explained that Amazon has been working years to advance Alexa, noting to teach the assistant instantaneously took three to four years to complete.
‘I am excited to show you the AI advancements bringing us closer to our long-term vision of making interactions with Alexa as simple as speaking to another person,’ he shared in a statement.’
‘Alexa already uses similar self-learning to automatically correct her mistakes by learning from customer feedback. These feedback signals include vocal frustration such as ‘Alexa, that’s wrong,’ or an interruption such as ‘Alexa, stop.’ Once Alexa determines a particular action was unsatisfactory, she automatically corrects herself.
‘Today, we’re taking this self-learning a step further by giving you the ability to directly teach Alexa.’
Amazon also introduced natural turn taking, which allows users to speak to Alexa with using a wake wording to provide ‘more natural and expressive’ conversations
‘This new capability helps Alexa get smarter by asking questions to fill gaps in her understanding—just like we do as humans.
Alexa is using machine learning to determine if a user’s request is a teachable moment and if it is, the assistant will ask follow up questions to better understand.
‘As an example, when reading the latest best seller, Alexa won’t automatically know that my preferred setting is 40% brightness when I ask, ‘Alexa, set the light to Rohit’s reading mode’,’ Prasad explained.
‘With interactive teaching, Alexa learns these definitions and associated actions instantaneously, and they are stored only for your account for future use.’
Amazon is set to roll out these capabilities to its other smart device in the coming months.
Along with the teachable AI, Alexa will also be equipped with a multi-sensory AI to observe acoustic, linguistic and visual cues to determine if an action is directed at it or a human in the room.
Using this information, the virtual assistant will then decide how to respond or which action to take