Use case for conversational AI

This is an interesting review of the Alexa software and how it fails to respond to more difficult questions.

 

Cat
Love It!
January 9, 2019
Alexa & my Echo Dot are great. I received the Echo Dot as a gift over a year ago & the Alexa app was available to me as a Prime Member (membership is also great & very worthwhile for all the benefits). I have set up & use Alexa routines, lists, reminders, alarms & use various Alexa skills regularly & find them very helpful. I’ve even used the Alexa social bot & find that project fascinating. I do wish Alexa was a little more interactive in some aspects, there have been a few times where I had to ask a question/request &/or rephrase my question/request a few times for Alexa to understand & answer or I just get a “I don’t know that” or “I am not familiar with that” response. Information for just about any inquiry should be available from the internet & it seems that Alexa does not always search the internet for responses. I have had comment from other Alexa users that they would like to be able to change the voice from female to male or even change accent or tine, as they can with their smart phones. A funny little annoyance – when Alexa hears her name said in TV commercials or from a conversation within her area, she tries to respond. It’s hilarious! Overall, I highly recommend Alexa & the Amazon Echo Dot. I am both enjoying & benefiting from them. God bless!

 

There must be a better way.  The need for conversational AI is apparent.  Alexa doesn’t search the internet as we think it should most likely due to restrictions.  You see when you search the internet or go to websites, the sites are tracking your every move in cookies, sessions, etc.  They show you ads, look at all of your cookies (not just the ones pertaining to their website), and sell your information.  All for a profit.  When a machine, such as Alexa, tries the same search it appears to the website more like a bot than a human.  Probably because it is.  Therefore, it is going to get treated like a machine.  Alexa can’t search Google all day everyday.  Even though Alexa is in a majority of homes in America, the brains are at AWS headquarters.  The searches therefore would all appear to be coming from AWS IP addresses, not from each of our homes where the voice request is initially conducted.

Yes, AWS and Google have competing voice assistant products, but that’s also not a reason that Alexa doesn’t leverage Google search for answers.  It’s because Google is going to enforce an API limit on Alexa as a whole.  One that it doesn’t enforce on us individual users.  So until Amazon builds its own search engine, it’s going to have to rely on the databases of answers generated by Mechanical Turk much more than it will be able to leverage the search platforms of Google, Bing or even DuckDuckGo.

This gives even more credence to the idea of personalized digital assistants.  We all have our own smart phones.  Why do we need Alexa, Siri and Google Home calling back to headquarters to answer every single request?  My personal technical assistant should be able to do some processing right on my device.  Sure it might have to call back to the grandaddy database at some of the time, but it should also be able to do a Google search straight from my phone if necessary and authorized by me in advance.  I think a new architecture for voice assistants is required at this stage of the game.  People don’t want these services always listening either.  I think they would put more trust in their phone to listen as long as it stays local on the phone until given permission to reach back to HQ.  If it’s not permitted then any recordings are deleted after a few seconds.  That seems like a better and more user acceptable design then the proprietary designs that are forced on us today.

 

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