Amazon Seeks to Integrate Alexa into Everyday Life
“Alexa is now distributed everywhere, capable of controlling more than 85,000 smart home products from TVs to doorbells to earbuds. It can execute over 100,000 “skills” and counting. It processes billions of interactions a week, generating huge quantities of data about your schedule, your preferences, and your whereabouts. Alexa has turned into an empire, and Amazon is only getting started.”⏤Karen Hao for technologyreview.com
In stunning plans that will make smart speakers ubiquitous and more important, a technology writer describes how much Alexa and similar devices are expected to become part of everyone’s daily routine, every day.
While many people don’t use a free-standing digital assistant, yet, other than Google on their phones, Karen Hao says she jumped on board with Echo almost immediately. Eventually, she found it valuable when it became capable of doing what she wanted⏤playing her favorite songs and answering questions. But five short years later, everything began to change.
Now Amazon advertises a scenes in which a driver tells the house to turn on the music and the lights for his partner, who is arriving home before him. Thoughtful to be sure. What’s coming now, according to Alexa’s chief scientist Rohit Prasad, is a change from passive to proactive assistants. Uh Oh. What could possibly go wrong with that set up?
Hao writes: The crux of the plan is for the voice assistant to move from passive to proactive interactions. Rather than wait for and respond to requests, Alexa will anticipate what the user might want. The idea is to turn Alexa into an omnipresent companion that actively shapes and orchestrates your life. This will require Alexa to get to know you better than ever before.
Since Alexa is a machine that collects data, it will also enable Amazon to get to know you better as well. A little unnerving for some people who value privacy, much like the cameras that are so popular in Ring doorbells and in home security. Consumer privacy may not be as private as people think. But for those who adopt the technology, Alexa or Echo will become much smarter, more helpful and possibly more annoying.
read more at technologyreview.com
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