Tuesday January 21, 2020
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Alexa to Soon Plan Your Family Night, Including Dinner, Movie, and a Ride

An Alexa customer planning a family movie night out must interact independently with multiple skills to find a list of local theatres

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Lawsuit, Amazon, Alexa
The woman has alleged the e-commerce giant for illegally recording children. Flickr

Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa will soon be able to execute a complete family night out experience where it may book the movie (and let you watch a trailer too), make a restaurant reservation and pre-book an Uber to take all of you there — all seamlessly and in a jiffy.

At its flagship “re:Mars” event here, the company showed a brief demo and announced that in the coming months, this and other multi-skill experiences will roll out to Alexa customers, initially in the US.

“We envision a world where customers will converse more naturally with Alexa: seamlessly transitioning between skills, asking questions, making choices, and speaking the same way they would with a friend, family member or co-worker,” Rohit Prasad, Company’s Vice President and Head Scientist, told a packed house.

“Our objective is to shift the cognitive burden from the customer to Alexa,” Prasad added.

Alexa, Family Night, Dinner, Movie
Amazon’s personal assistant Alexa will soon be able to execute a complete family night out experience. Pixabay

Today, customer exchanges with Alexa are generally either one-shot requests, like “Alexa, what’s the weather?”, or interactions that require multiple requests to complete more complex tasks.

An Alexa customer planning a family movie night out must interact independently with multiple skills to find a list of local theatres playing a particular movie, identify a restaurant near one of them, and then purchase movie tickets, book a table, and perhaps order a ride.

The cognitive burden of carrying information across skills — such as time, number of people, and location — rests with the customer.

Enabling a new experience is a set of AI modules that work together to generate responses to customers’ questions and requests.

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The new approach to multi-turn dialogue also includes a separate AI module whose task is to decide when to switch between different skills — which questions to pass to the restaurant search skill, for instance, and which to pass to the movie skill,” informed Prasad.

“With this new approach, Alexa will predict a customer’s latent goal from the direction of the dialogue and proactively enable the conversation flow across topics and skills. This is a big leap for conversational AI,” informed Prasad.

He also announced the developer preview of “Alexa Conversations”, a new deep learning-based approach for skill developers to create more-natural voice experiences with less effort, fewer lines of code and less training data than before.

Alexa, Family Night, Dinner, Movie
Enabling a new experience is a set of AI modules that work together to generate responses to customers’ questions and requests. Pixabay

The preview allows skill developers to create natural, flexible dialogues within a single skill; upcoming releases will allow developers to incorporate multiple skills into a single conversation.

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“It’s way easier to build a complex voice experience with Alexa Conversations due to its underlying deep-learning-based dialog modeling,” Prasad noted. (IANS)

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Cinema Has the Power to Bring Social Change: Vikrant Massey

Cinema is instrumental in shaping society, says bollywood actor Vikrant Massey

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Vikrant Massey
Vikrant Massey says with every new project he tries to be a part of important stories. Wikimedia Commons

With four films in the pipeline, and his latest film “Chhapaak” having released on Friday, actor Vikrant Massey says with every new project he tries to be a part of important stories because cinema has the power to bring social change.

Although no film glorifies crime — particularly crime against women — we have seen a rise in such misdemeanours lately. The question arises if cinema impacts the minds of the audience, why has it failed to change the mindset of the youth who commit such crime?

“Cinema has always been instrumental in shaping society, not just in India but all over the world. Even in the West, cinema played a huge part in ushering revolution and initiating conversations among people. When I say revolution, I am not saying that after watching films people will take to the streets and start chanting slogans. The very idea of taking up a topic can lead to a revolution, and cinema has the power to do so,” Vikrant told IANS.

Vikrant Massey
“When it comes to crime, it is happening because individuals are committing crime, so the change has to start from within,” says Vikrant Massey. Wikimedia Commons

“Having said that, I know that the crime rate is high and I do not have a solution as an actor. I do think people these days are ridden with angst. For example, when I drive I just see a certain rage on the roads — people honk even if they see the signal. People don’t think twice before using abusive word,” added the actor.

Vikrant’s latest film is based on the life of acid attack victim, Laxmi Agarwal. The film highlights acid violence.

“When it comes to crime, it is happening because individuals are committing crime, so the change has to start from within,” he pointed out.

Starting his career on TV with the show “Kahaan Hoon Main” in 2004, Vikrant worked on the small screen until 2014 in “Ajab Gajab Ghar Jamai”. He then shifted gear to Bollywood.

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“I left television consciously after 10 years because I wanted to give myself a chance to step into the world of cinema. I want every role of mine in films to be different. I have given myself 10 years in cinema to achieve more than what I did in TV. It has been six years in Bollywood and I have four more years to go,” shared Vikrant.

Vikrant’s new crop of films include “Ramprasad Ki Tehrvi”, “Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare”, “Cargo”, “Ginny Weds Sunny” and “Haseen Dilruba”. (IANS)