Meet Alexa, your new AI assistant

Amazon announced it was releasing Echo, an intelligent voice-activated assistant, to the general public. Scredible CEO Colin Lucas-Mudd is an avid technology early adopter, and frequent Beta-tester. We sat down with him to get his thoughts on the beta version, and where he sees the product evolving in the future.

“It’s been interesting to see, or should I say ‘listen to’, the evolution of the Echo over the past month—mine arrived after a six-month wait on May 21st; long enough for me to forget that I’d been offered one of the early ‘geek’ specials. From the outset, the speech pick up and ‘understanding’ was excellent.

The background noise discrimination and understanding was, and remains, exceptional—putting Siri, Google, et al., to shame. ‘Eric’, our pet name (Amazon, when will you update the firmware to allow ‘Alexa’ to be changed?), has zero difficulty switching on the fly between my English, and my wife’s American accents and vocabulary.

It is clear that there are some genuine heuristic elements at play here, with good machine learning algorithms… And getting better. The main problem is Amazon’s bifurcation and/or ‘genie-out-of-the-box’ problem: “Alexa, what is the best online price for a Canon 200mm f4 IS lens?”. Interestingly, with certain similar questions the answer does appear in the linked IOS app, but not all. Echo certainly does not answer.

On the linked app itself, this is still ‘pre-beta’ to be frank. However, it’s improving, and the possibilities are there for all to see. At $99 it was little more than a simple curiosity. As the calendar and other features come in, I can see it being worth $179 shortly. In the future, and assuming Amazon continues to invest in the real potential, it will transcend a geek toy and become a really valuable tool.”

With such potential, one can assume we will hear Alexa’s voice reverberating off Scredible’s virtual office walls in the not too distant future.

Full article: CIO Today – Amazon Unleashes AI Assistant Echo for All



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