Amazon Alexa

How Alexa Learns and What Can Alexa Do?

What Is Alexa And How It Learns?

There is no doubt that commercial AI (artificial intelligence) has started to grow beyond the drawing board stage. The last decade has seen AI being used more aggressively for commercial purposes. While there are many players who offer different variants of AI, Amazon has come out with Alexa. This is well thought out and researched AI tools that allow intelligent customer interactions. These interactions help quite a bit in AI systems to generate data. When more data is available, it is quite obvious that learning algorithms would offer better performance. This, at the end of the day, leads to much better customer experience. User engagement and experience as far as customers are concerned and this again generate more data and the process repeats itself.

Data Is Used To Train Machine Learning Systems

It would be pertinent to mention here that date that is used in machine learning systems come handy in three ways. These include supervised learning. Here there is hand-labelling of training data and includes parts of speech, words along with image and objects. The system is taught to apply labels that are unlabelled. There are also variants to this. They include supervised learning options for every week. This makes use of imprecise labels and helps users at machine learning at their own pace. For example, is a website visitors do a search and get some links, the links he or she clicks will indicate as to which search results should have occupied the top of the list. This is implicit information and could come in handy for labelling data automatically.

Unsupervised Learning

When you choose this product from Amazon, you also can go in for training using unlabeled data and this also is referred to as unsupervised learning. The main objective is to ensure that the data is clustered taking into account structural features. The clusters have self-defined categories and classifications. In fine, these semi-supervised learning options use a small amount of labelled training data. The data is used for extracting information that is available in larger stores belonging to training data that is unlabeled.

As per recent AI research, the role of supervised learning always has been predominant. However, AI systems are capable of offering quite a few other things than ordinary customer interactions. However, these would call for some reorientation as far as the users are concerned. They should try and learn to become more semi-supervised and should also opt for weakly supervision options and should also learn more about unsupervised learning. The final objective should be to find ways to improve oneself.

It Calls For Self Training

There is no doubt that self-training is the best way forward for semi-supervised training. This about applies labels to a much bigger quantity of unlabeled data, using machine learning systems. Some bit of labelled data also has to be used for such learning. This is because machine learning methods depend on a lot of statistics and the outputs have confidence scores as the final results. Further, the system outputs are also sorted as per the confidence score. Those outputs that are in the bracket of the right confidence window are used for training the system a bit further. The system, at the end of the day, is retrained on data that is labelled.

In a typical situation, self-training is the best option because you have examples to help improve confidence. However, there are some situations where examples of lower confidence are known to offer much better performances. This is because it could better capture the various nuances that may not have been learned by the system

There is one more way to leverage labelled data that is small in quantity. One could perhaps use a form of unsupervised clustering algorithm and apply the same to the end result. For example, it is possible to automatically embed sentences using a high dimensional space. These are then grouped together. The grouping is done based on the co-occurrence of certain component words. Once done, the algorithms can be used for generalizing the labs.

How Do Companies Make Use Of Machine Learning?

Companies that are dependent on machine learning for classification of real-time data also can make use of a training option that is semi-supervised. This could be useful to label data and make it lean apart from making it very efficient for real-time networking. It would be pertinent to mention that Amazon is using it across a range of business units and also in Amazon Echo.

Making Use Of Customer Feedback

When it comes to artificial intelligence learning, many end users make use of customer feedback for automatic labelling of data. They bank on star ratings from end users on reviews on sites like This could come in handy for providing automatic data label for machines that are weakly supervised and where customer feedback and sentiments are used as cues.

It also would be pertinent to mention here that customers who use Amazon Alexa voice service are not seen rating the response of Alexa based on individual requests. However, their interaction does provide the right kind of signals, which Amazon uses to good effect. If the initial feedback or response is not satisfactory then the customers might go for the rephrasing of the request after cutting off the initial response.

Scores Of Rephrased Requests Are Analyzed

It would be pertinent to mention here that Alexa has a system that allows it to automatically analyze, on a monthly basis, requests that are rephrased. Rephrasing is important to allow the wrong understanding of the requests by the AI tools.

How Does Sign Up Happen

As of now the rewrite procedures of Alexa are quite general. For example, those who want music from Magic Dragons could end up getting Imagine Dragons. However, the technology behind it could be fine-tuned for providing customers with query responses that are highly personalized. This could avoid mistakes and wrong misinterpretations as mentioned above.

Further Amazon researchers are trying out a variety of other methods and techniques to help better-unsupervised learning. These include monitoring of simple operating parameters over cloud servers so that problems can be found out. They also make use of a product hierarchy of to establish connections between searches by customers for various products. They also make use of bootstrapping of natural language for understanding the various nuances in new languages. These could help in automatic translation of texts and integrate them with the various machine learning systems. This could be a new beginning when it comes to labelling text and also the automatic translation of the labelled text into the desired language.

Hence there is no denying the fact that commercial artificial intelligence is about the machine being in a position to learn at the required scale. However, that does not mean just dumping more data at problems and expecting that it will be solved. It is more about finding some interesting, smart and ingenious ways for making use of data efficiently and reliably but without very little or zero human involvement. It is a process that is evolving and it might take a few more attempt and some more time before it actually gets engrained into the system and move from a lukewarm usage to something that is more aggressive and more broad-based.

How Does Alexa Work? Some Interesting Observations

We often come across common questions to Alexa regarding the weather and regarding the chance of rain and so on. The best thing is that Alexa does not fail in giving the reply and in most cases it is right. This is what efficient and good use of artificial intelligence all about. This is about understanding human speech by AI and responding to it in the right manner with the right answers and inputs. However, this has not come about overnight. It has quite naturally taken decades of hard work for scientists to have a complete understanding of natural human speech and juxtapose them with various AI resources. Alexa is one such successful effort and it is considered to be one of the best natural language processing tools which Amazon has offered to its customers. It has evolved, grown and after many trials and tribulations, it has been enabled successfully. It has now reached a stage where it is being successfully accepted by consumers.

Alexa is an AI device that talks to users of various Amazon Echo products. There are a few of them including some famous names such as Tap, Dot and Echo. Even Amazon Fire TV and a few other third-party products make use of this technology. Alexa has covered quite a distance and since 2012 it has moved forward quite a bit. This was the year when the patent was filed for what ultimately would be considered as one of the best artificial intelligence systems from the stables of Alexa. The growth capabilities and the market for the future indeed look extremely bullish and there is no doubt that the credit of this must go to machine learning.

It Is Indeed Complex

Though we perhaps might be doing it every day without giving too much of thought, it is a fact that conversations between humans and machines are not easy. It is quite complicated and complex. Therefore, there is a simple and valid question that occurs to the mind of many people, experts and of course end users. How was it possible for players like Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple to crack the AI Code? Let us try and see if the next few lines would be able to give a suitable answer to this question.

Understanding The Basics Of Alexa

As we read this article, there are a few numbers and statistics that we cannot afford to ignore. Last year around 30 million smart speakers were bought by customers around the globe. If this is good news, then the next news will be mind-boggling. This number is supposed to cross 60 million this year. Hence, it would not be out of place to mention here that the market is growing in geometrical progression. The market leader continues to be Amazon as far as smart speakers are concerned. It has sold around 20 million devices in the last years. While it is the market leaders, others like Google are also getting their act together and are beginning to catch up fast. The smart speakers coming out from the stables of these giants have quite a few things differently when compared to one another. However, when we try and find out what exactly Amazon Echo has to offer, there could be quite a few interesting things.

Echo cylinder does come with quite a bit of capability and these include speakers, microphone and of course a small computer. The computer can let the system awake and once it is awake the lights blink. This lets the end user know that it is on active mode. The real capabilities of the device come to the fore once it starts sending its final product based on the instruction that you give as an end user. The instruction the end users give to Alexa goes through the Cloud and gets interpreted by the technologically advanced AVS or Alexa Voice Services. Hence, there is no denying the fact that the whole thing is quite complex and there are many things that have to work in sync.

Things That Amazon Echo Can Do For You

Having understood the basics of artificial intelligence labelled and unlabeled data and of course Amazon Echo it would be interesting to know as to how this technology benefits the end users. At the end of the day, there is no doubt that the proof of the pudding lies in eating. Hence, let us try and have a look at ten common things that we could do using Echo. There could be a few more but the following ten are perhaps the most common.

Make Landline Calls

With the influx of mobile phones, we thought the days of landlines were over. However, Amazon has brought it back and the credit should go to Alexa. This tool can be used for making calls to Alexa devices in other homes or offices. It is akin to answering machines which were in vogue during the 1990s and 2000s. It allows users to leave a message. Those who have the Alexa number can call you, but you also have an option of blocking unwanted calls.

You Can Control Your Smart Home

You could make use of Alex for controlling your appliances, door locks, lights, switches and various other smart home devices. You could make use of the home compatibility tools and find out the various things where Alexa could come in handy. You could turn on and turn off lights and even change the color of the lights should it have the capability. You could use for opening and closing your garage door. You could use this tool to set room temperature through your air conditioners and heaters. Simple oral instruction and things will be done for you by Alexa.

Get Some Interesting Cooking Tips

If you are looking for some useful cooking ideas and tips, Alexa could come in handy. You also could converse with Alexa about some recipes and ingredients and it will come out with a list of possible choices. You also could use it for playing music while cooking and Alexa will oblige you with the right music. You need not mention specific music names. You can be generic and Alexa with its artificial intelligence capability.

Get To Know News

As you get ready for the long day ahead in your workplace or as you arrive home, you certainly would like to keep in touch with what is happening around the world. Alexa can be a good and obedient companion and help you with the news around your world. This is referred to as Flash Briefing and you have the option to customize. You can also choose and pick the source of news and this again is amazing, to say the least. It could be from CNET or Fox or from CNN or BBC and a host of other such news channels and information providers.

You Can Entertain Your Kids For Hours At Length

Alexa has a huge collection of games and other entertainment avenues. These come in very handy, whenever there is a need to entertain your kids. As a busy homemaker or career builder, you can integrate Amazon Echo into the various games that Amazon offers. Once this is done the rest is great fun, to say the least.

You Can Learn About Other Features

There could be times when you might feel that Alexa cannot do something out of the box. You might feel that it is all becoming too mundane and too predictable. If it ever happens, you should try and skills section which is known as Skill Finder. You can use this feature to find various new skills. It has a plethora of skills up its sleeve and you have to only command it and it will do the rest. There are around thirty-five different types of skills that Alexa has in its magic bag and once you order it, it will take one each at a time and make your surprised and pleased.

Try And Get Fitter And Leaner

It may not be possible to take Alexa to the gym unless you have a Tap. However, you can instruct her to come out with fitness feedback and tips. It will be able to give you some useful and practical ways to ensure that you remain healthy. It has a number of information titbits that could help you in your fitness endeavor. It can help you get information about calorie contents in various workouts. It will wake you up and get you into the workout mode and ensure that you are on your toes and prevent you from falling into a slumber or lethargy.

You Can Control Your TV

Handling the remote and looking for it the entire house could certainly be a big problem for many. You could have found your helping hand in Alexa that operates through Amazon Echo. Alexa could help you to control your TV almost totally using your voice. However, setting it up for the first time might take some time and it might also cost you some money. But, once you are through with it, it will certainly be great fun using the voice features that are enabled through the artificial intelligence which forms part of Alexa. It could help you to turn off and turn on the TV. You also could use it to turn on Netflix. You also can use it to pause your TV program. However, it might call for using a Harmony remote and the same comes along with Harmony Hub. The hub can be bought separately and the step by step guide has to be followed for installation and activation.

You Can Play Music Using Spotify

When it is used in the default mode, Alexa could help you to play music with the help of Amazon Music. However, once you decide to use Spotify, the settings can be changed. Alexa will allow you to use Spotify as the default players. Here again, you have to go through the various step by step procedures and once the thing has been set up, Spotify could become your default player and you can enjoy it for listening to the music of your choice.

You Also Make Alexa Do Much More

Yes, it is a fact that Alexa cannot talk to each and every device or website. This is because not all companies have tied up with Alexa. Further, not all features available in-home devices can be activated using Alexa. But there are some ways by which this can be done and through this, you can connect Alexa to various devices that are not supported. You also can add various apps and websites. This workaround option is referred to as IFTTT. Through IFTTT you can change the color of your light or bulb when the timer has expired. However, this would certainly call for some programming and this has to be done using IFTTT. There are many Alexa IFTTT recipes that you can make use of.

The Final Word

In fine, when one looks at the fascinating world of artificial intelligence in general and the world of Amazon Echo and Alexa in particular, you have reasons to feel excited and happy about the future. The world of AI may have well and truly arrived and it will not be long before more complex tasks are made possible using this technology. Work is already going on in this direction and there is no doubt that Amazon is playing a big role in making this happen.