What is Alexa and How Does it Use AI Technology? thumbnail

What is Alexa and How Does it Use AI Technology?

Amazon Alexa is a virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence, machine learning, and automation technologies. This article explores Alexa's capabilities, how it uses AI, and the advancements made in its technology.

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published by : Code Flow
updated at : 2023-02-05 21:35:46

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Present days are showing that AI is evolving or growing faster than our imagination.


 Among all Amazon’s digital voice assistant (Alexa) is one of the market leaders in a small field whose products are evolving through the continued refinement of machine learning techniques.

But, before all this let’s know more about it.

 Is Alexa itself an AI or device with artificial intelligence?

To know the answer to these questions, we need to step back and take a look at some of the more fundamental principles involved.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)


AI or artificial intelligence is a broad term for a branch of computer science that spans multiple disciplines, all with the similar aim of creating systems and machines which are capable of performing tasks that were previously only possible within the realm of human reasoning, perception, or learning.

Many researchers and developers’ long-term objective in this field is said to be artificial general intelligence (AGI), or strong AI. This describes a state where the machines will be capable of performing tasks in a manner equal to or beyond the capacity of humans.

We are certainly not there yet and are unlikely to reach this level for some years.

In the meantime, what we have is weak or narrow AI, which consists of specialist systems designed to perform a single specific task or a narrow range of tasks extremely well or perfectly.

Part of what’s enabling this current AI level is known as a division of artificial intelligence known as machine learning.

 Here, machines collect and process vast amounts of information and analyze it to identify patterns, use these observations to make decisions, and improve the system’s performance over time.

So, in light of all this, is Alexa AI or machine learning? To begin to answer this, we’ll need to understand what it is.

What Is Alexa?


Amazon Alexa is a voice-controlled digital or virtual assistant program that generally accepts voice commands to create to-do lists, order items online, set reminders, and answer questions (via internet searches).

It is said to have close integration with the Amazon Echo and Dot smart speakers.

Owners of these systems can use voice commands to ask natural language questions, play music, order pizza, hail an Uber, and integrate or connect it with smart home devices.

To this date, more than 100 distinct products have Alexa built in.

Alexa AI Technology


Alexa and others ability in the virtual assistant space like Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri is to respond to user input and execute commands is largely dependent on artificial intelligence, automation, and machine learning technologies.

 So now the question is, how does Alexa use AI?

Starting from 2018, machine learning technology has always been expanding the capabilities of Alexa.

During that year, for example, it has learned how to carry over context from one query to the next and register follow-up questions without users having to repeat the system’s wake word.

The platform has also gained the ability to handle multiple requests simultaneously and allow the users to call up a skill (one of its range of onboard apps) without knowing its exact name.

Active learning technology has mostly enabled the system to identify areas where it needs help from a human expert, substantially reducing its error rates which is much progressive. The feature extends to Alexa’s speech recognition and natural language understanding mechanisms which means more user friendly.

The introduction of a system known as transfer learning to Alexa has triggered a 25 per cent reduction in its error rate over a year.

In essence, the system employs deep learning (an advancement in machine learning that uses artificial neural networks modelled on the human brain) to model many domains and transfer that learning to a new domain or skill so that more is done in less time or time-saving.

Does it use AI in other ways?


Well, the launch of self-learning technology on the platform has enabled it to make corrections based on context clues automatically in real-time.

An example would be if you will ask your Echo to play a certain named radio station, and the request will fail because it doesn’t catalogue the station in that way.

If you reference the station in another way, like “play Sirius channel 53,” self-learning enables it to associate the first name with this second reference, and respond correctly the next time you ask which means the second method will work efficiently.

In 2021, Amazon is making Alexa smarter through natural turn-taking, having conversations with multiple people, natural language understanding, and the ability to be taught by its users.

The first target for these improvements is said to be the smart home, with features such as Reading Sidekick, (a tool designed to help kids read), and conversational improvements aimed at making it more of a family member without as many “Alexa” words.

Alexa for Business is likely to follow with related improvements and progresses.

Amazon’s new Echo devices are evolving to become more like smart home edge computing devices at the infrastructure level which is a good foundation.

They are now using the company’s AZ1 Neural Edge processor, which offers 20 times less power consumption, double the speech processing, and 85% lower memory usage which is very consumer-friendly.

But is it considered AI? Not as such, but it’s certainly a system that’s using AI technology and techniques to become smarter and more versatile so it can be referred to as weak AI.

In its current format, the system includes the following capabilities:

  • It can take interaction cues, take note of the errors, and then connect them.
  • It can also learn from humans by asking to follow up questions when there’s a gap in knowledge about returns and learned modes.
  • Deep learning space parsers allow It to understand gaps and extract new concepts and ideas.
  • The system now features more natural conversation and adaptation which is more users friendly.
  • It has a follow-up mode when interacting with humans.
  • Natural turn-taking is said to be the ability to use visual and acoustic cues to determine the best action to take and allow people to interact with it at their own pace.

Is Alexa The Best AI Assistant On The Market?


There are some conflicting views on this.

A recent comparative review of it and its two main competitors (Google Assistant and Siri) throws up a mixed bag of results.

Among them, the main points are:

The best Google Home compatible devices aren’t necessarily better than the best Alexa compatible devices or the best HomeKit devices.

All three assistants also offer some form of multi-room audio facility, including creating groups of speakers via your smartphone.

Thanks to its tight integration with Amazon, it has the edge when it comes to handling purchase requests.

Siri wins out when it comes to communications, with streamlined calls and text on the iPhone, and options to have emails and text messages read back to you which is good about it.

With Google Maps integration, Google Assistant is said to be top of the heap when it comes to navigation and travel time estimates.

In terms of voice recognition, Google Assistant and Alexa have the advantage over Siri.

With more than 70,000 third-party skills, it provides the widest selection of apps.

If you are interested to know more about Artificial Intelligence you can check out the given link Artificial Intelligence 2021: Best Innovation Of All Time

If you are more interested in Alexa then check out the given linkhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Alexa

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