Artifical intelligence

Meet Alexa, Amazon’s Artificial Intelligence personality

Much to my wife and daughter’s amusement (very different types of amusement), I introduced a new woman into our home recently…

Not an actual person, but Alexa, Amazon’s Artificial Intelligence personality as part of the Amazon Echo Dot product. Not officially sold in Australia yet, a fellow security/tech-crazy friend in USA bought it for me and shipped it here down under.

Now there is a small black disc, similar in size to a hockey puck that turns on my lounge room light and answers questions from my five year old about her favourite colour or sings her a song.

It’s all quite trivial for now, but for how long?

I can tell Alexa to start playing a movie on my mobile phone, tell me the weather forecast for Marrakesh, or have her buy me a book and deliver it to my house or even my Kindle!

What if I was able to ask Alexa to extrude two hundred aluminium brackets, order four pallets of copy paper, or ask her what times were available in the boardroom tomorrow?

A big area of growth using AI that I’ve already seen plenty of testimonials for, is disability and aged care support. Alexa can call a cab or a support person via voice command, place a groceries order or play trivia games with the lonely.

Below is an extract of testimonial from quadriplegic widower Michael Davis found on amazon.com…

Alexa has been a blessing beyond my imagination. She has given me an opportunity that I never thought would be possible. I still use the joystick input because they are reliable and not subject to Wi-Fi disruption but Alexa is growing more dependable each day.

To be able to sit it in my electric wheelchair and call out commands without having to struggle with switches or computer input is wonderful. A car accident left me a quadriplegic 34 years ago. So, I know what it is to be able to easily walk over and flip a switch or to restart a computer that has locked up.

The littlest of things become a struggle. Alexa will help me to live more independent, live more safely and productive.

Who else is in the AI market?

The Amazon Echo family isn’t the only entrant into the hope AI market. Siri is something familiar to many Aussies, and soon she’ll launch in physical form in Australia as the “Home Pod”. Google’s “Google Home” launched in Australia on the 21st of July 2017. Every Windows 10 PC comes with Cortana, though I personally don’t know anybody who uses her productively.

For now, the Amazon Echo family (Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Show, Echo Tap) is the most mature platform, but all three providers (don’t be surprised if Microsoft’s Cortana soon gets a new smart home container to make it four) have a lot of skin in the game in these early days of affordable Artificial Intelligence.

The question is, is this sort of technology something that could work in your organisation?

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