Amazon’s Alexa has disturbed many people. However, recent developments are saying that in the future, the company is planning to add “eyes” and “ears” to the device.
Speaking with MIT Technology Review, Rohit Prasad, Alexa’s head scientist, has now revealed further details about where Alexa is headed next. 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.
In fact Prasad, who will outline his vision for Alexa’s future at WebSummit in Lisbon, Portugal, later today, has already given the world a sneak preview of what this shift might look like. In June at the re:Mars conference, he demoed a feature called Alexa Conversations, showing how it might be used to help you plan a night out. Instead of manually initiating a new request for every part of the evening, you would need only to begin the conversation—for example, by asking to book movie tickets. Alexa would then follow up to ask whether you also wanted to make a restaurant reservation or call an Uber.
To power this transition, Amazon needs both hardware and software. In September, the tech giant launched a suite of “on the go” Alexa products, including the Echo Buds (wireless earphones) and Echo Loop (a smart ring). All these new products let Alexa listen to and log data about a dramatically larger portion of your life, the better to offer assistance informed by your whereabouts, your actions, and your preferences.
From a software perspective, these abilities will require Alexa to use new methods for processing and understanding all the disparate sources of information. In the last five years, Prasad’s team has focused on building the assistant’s mastery of AI fundamentals, like basic speech and video recognition, and expanding its natural-language understanding. On top of this foundation, they have now begun developing Alexa’s intelligent prediction and decision-making abilities and—increasingly—its capacity for higher-level reasoning. The goal, in other words, is for Alexa’s AI abilities to get far more sophisticated within a few years. (source)
One may remember the “Jetsons” cartoons, which was about the future where robots were regularly used and played a major role in family life.
Many of the stories from the 1950s and TV shows also talk about or show the frequent use of robots.
The things of the 1950s, which were considered a part of “science fiction” back then, are becoming an active reality right now.
The future is not something of the past, but is happening right now.
Alexa already has “eyes” and “ears” in the sense of her cameras and sensors, but what this scientist is saying is that these aspects are going to become more pronounced. Interactions between humans and robots will not be a novelty, but commonplace and in a short time, boring and expected just as “4-to-6 weeks” for shipping eventually morphed into “why-isn’t-my-amazon-one-day-delivery-already-here-and-it-isnt-even twenty-four-hours yet?”
The most interesting aspect of this, as I have stated before, will be the loss of privacy and the redefinition of what “privacy” is in a social setting.
For example, many people will speak of “gun rights,” but they are nowhere as what they were in the past as when compared with today, and will likely disappear in the future because of the changes.
Privacy, or at least the social conception of privacy, is much the same. It is a changing thing that if it continues at the rate which it is, will be considered something antiquated and a relic of “non-technological” times (not that technology never existed, but the kind and intensity of technology that exists today is a historically abnormal and new phenomena, especially as it includes the whole world).
It used to be said that in some Soviet nations the, “walls have ears.” This is moreso than even in the USSR then, as the spying is not forced, but intentional and socially accepted, which is far more dangerous than anything a man is compelled to do at gunpoint.