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Amazon's roadmap for Alexa is more frightening than anything Facebook or Twitter do




Amazon has big plans for its virtual assistant. One day, maybe earlier than you think, Alexa will play a proactive role in directing our lives. It will interpret our data, make decisions for us and call us when it has something to say. Rohit Prasad, the scientist responsible for Alexa's development. Recently, Karen Hao of MIT Technology Review gave one of the most terrible interviews in modern journalism. We know how dangerous it is to run bad actors with AI and our data ̵

1; if you need a refresher, remember the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

That does not mean that Prasad is a bad actor or anything but a talented scientist. But he and the company he works for probably have access to more of our data than ten Facebooks and Twitters together. And to rewrite Kanye West, nobody should have that power.

Hao writes:

Rohit Prasad, Alexas chief scientist, has now unveiled more details about where Alexa steers next to talking to MIT Technology Review. The core of the plan is that the language assistant transitions from passive to proactive interactions. Instead of waiting for and answering inquiries, Alexa anticipates what the user might want. The idea is to make Alexa a ubiquitous companion who actively shapes and orchestrates your life. Alexa needs to get to know you better than ever before.

The idea that Alexa is a ubiquitous companion who wants to orchestrate her life should probably upset her. But the work that Prasad and the Alexa team are performing or now is not scary by itself. If you're one of the eight or nine people on the planet who have never interacted with Alexa, you're missing out on that and not really. Virtual assistants are miraculously intuitive and frustratingly limited today.

In an interaction, say "Alexa, play some music" and the wizard "randomly" picks a playlist that touches the depths of your soul as if she knew better than you what you hear must be tested.

But the next time you use it, you might be in a three-minute argument about whether you want to hear music from Cher or buy a beige chair (with two-day free entry) shipping).

From the consumer's point of view, it's hard to imagine that Alexa will be so useful that we'll call it when summons us . However, the main task of Alexa will always be to collect data. Simply put, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are all trillion-dollar companies because data is the world's most valuable resource and Alexa is one of the world's largest data collectors.

Once Alexa stops searching for commands and makes suggestions, Amazon no longer focuses on building a handful of massive training databases containing data from hundreds of millions of users. Instead, it indicates that it focuses on building millions of training databases that consist of data from individuals or very small user groups.

Haos Tech Review Item continues:

Prasad's ultimate vision is to make Alexa available and useful to all. Even in developing countries, he imagines cheaper versions that people can access with their smartphones. "For me, we are on the way to shifting the cognitive load to routine tasks," he says. "I want Alexa to be a productivity enhancer who is truly omnipresent to make it work for everyone."

This transition is unlikely to feel like a giant technological leap. No expert is required to assume that the intrusive version of Alexa is still stumbling, fighting, and not coping with language problems that a four-year-old would understand.

It's not about creating a sci-fi experience that excites you. It's about finding ways to get even more personalized data for Amazon by literally giving Alexa permission to start the conversation.

Everything changes the moment our relationship with a collection of algorithms from "Hey Alexa" to "Yes Alexa?"

Read next: A Beginner's Guide to the AI ​​Apocalypse: Wrong Targets


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