Many people have an Amazon Echo (or several) in their home and now Alexa is getting even smarter.
New updates mean that Alexa will start second-guessing what you want.
As an example, if you ask how long it would take to boil an egg, Alexa may now follow the answer by asking if you would like to set a timer.
In a blog, Alexa software engineers Anjishnu Kumar and Anand Rathi said: “With a new machine learning system, Alexa can infer that an initial question implies a subsequent request” and this is done via “a number of sophisticated algorithms to detect latent goals, formulate them into actions that frequently span different skills and surface to customers in a way doesn’t feel disruptive”.
One expert warns that it might not be everything it’s cracked up to be. Stuart Miles is the founder of Gadget website Pocket-lint and says it all depends on if it works well: “If you ask it what the capital of Mongolia is in the context of geography homework and its next question is, ‘Do you want to book tickets online?’, then that is going to be annoying, and you are just going to turn it off.”
Another problem is user error, says Stuart: “One of most asked questions of Alexa is ‘Turn on the lights’, even by people who don’t have smart lights connected to Alexa,” he said. “They think, ‘Alexa is clever, so why can’t it turn on my lights?’ People expect these voice assistants to become more intelligent, but they still have to learn.”
Is Alexa useful or creepy?
Image via Alamy