Amazon sees a bright future of AI, robots and Alexa. Others see job losses

CNET | 6/28/2019 | Ben Fox Rubin
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At Amazon's re:MARS robotics and AI conference, the humans remain in control, for now.

It just so happens that the phrase "turn the lights on" sounds a lot like the word "tenderloin." That seemingly unimportant phonetic connection became an early challenge for Amazon's Alexa Shopping team. After all, the world's largest online store didn't want to ship its customers surprise packages of meat when all they wanted was to flick on a light switch.

Company - System - Voice - Commands - Request

So the company devised a ranking system for its voice commands, placing a request for the lights, which is used a lot, high above a request for tenderloin, which isn't. To hone this system, the company gave Alexa contextual awareness too, so the voice assistant could tell if a conversation is related to groceries and not smart home controls.

One of Amazon's new warehouse robot designs, shown at re:MARS.

Context - Dialogue - Ranking - Context - Word

"When we identify that's the context of your dialogue, we then do the ranking within that context and recognize that the word you actually said was 'tenderloin,' " Chuck Moore, vice president of Alexa Shopping, told me during Amazon's re:MARS artificial intelligence and robotics conference in Las Vegas earlier this month.

This precise voice-recognition processing is part of Amazon's push to bring its AI expertise and automation to just about every layer of its business, including its warehouse robots, cashierless retail stores and, of course, Alexa. This behind-the-scenes tech is already providing Amazon's customers with faster deliveries and helping people streamline their errands, like creating a shopping list or picking up a gallon of milk.

Giant - Heavy-hitters - Resources - AI - Computers

The retail giant is just one of many tech heavy-hitters pouring resources into AI, which allows computers and bots to perform higher-level tasks like decision-making and predicting customers' needs. Microsoft, Google, Apple and Facebook are also touting how the technology can change and improve our lives.

At re:MARS, CNET...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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