LISBON – Amazon’s vision for the future of Alexa is less and less R2-D2 and more and more C-3PO. As one of his senior executives at the company explained in an interview on stage at his Web Summit,(opens in new window) Meeting here, the company wants customers to not only give instructions to its voice assistant, but also want and evaluate its input.
Speaking to his interviewer, CEO Nick Thompson, Rohit Prasad, senior vice president and head scientist at Alexa, said: Atlantic.
“If you ask Alexa which hike to do, she should say, ‘You should do this hike,’ just like a friend would,” Prasad said. “Because it knows me and should tell me exactly what to do there.”
And some of Alexa’s oldest and youngest customers are already making such cybernetic friendships. “Certain customers, especially children and older adults, use Alexa in many ways and are real companions. I have.”
But Amazon wants to ensure that comfort level doesn’t get too close to what Prasad calls the spooky line. When Thompson asked about Alexa’s “emotional responsibility,” Prasad said Alexa needs to listen carefully to intonation and other audio her cues. Alternatively, empathy can be simulated by reading user settings appropriately.
“If you ask Alexa ‘favorite team’s score’ and my team is winning, she should come back and tell you in a very enthusiastic voice that this team is winning,” Prasad said. said. Alexa just needs to read the score “not optimistically”.
Asked how Amazon measures the success of Alexa’s conversational abilities, Prasad said the company has “pretty sophisticated machine learning algorithms” that process multiple signals. He added:
Thompson asked how much of Alexa’s voice processing can be done locally instead of in the cloud. Alexa devices have been known to start listening and upload snippets of conversations when they accidentally hear the wake word “Alexa” (settings can be adjusted to minimize risk) Canada thinks smart his speakers are listening to them.
Prasad called privacy and security “a top priority” and said he sees protecting them as “a huge opportunity for invention.” He added that Alexa should already work offline in places like cars, but declined to offer any hints about expanding on-device processing capabilities.
In June, Amazon released a concept video(opens in new window) Alexa was able to imitate a person’s voice after listening to them for less than a minute. After Thompson noted that some people found the idea of the Amazons simulating the voices of dead relatives strange to some, Prasad said that Alexa would read stories to children in the voice of their grandmother. He said that the scenario in which the video portrays it is not. live in it.
Prasad called it “incredible technology” and said, “A lot of people say they want that feature.” The company has not announced a timeline for deployment on Alexa devices.
Thompson opened the interview by pointing out just how much his eight-year-old show relies on Alexa, referring to one recent request he made overhead Monday.
“There are certain AI capabilities,” Prasad replied.
(Disclosure(opens in new window): I moderated four panels at the Web Summit, and the organizers paid for my airfare and accommodation. )
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