Monday November 18, 2019
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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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Is Oracle Digital Assistant Smarter Than Amazon Alexa? Find Out Here!

Here's Why Oracle's digital assistant better than Amazon's Alexa

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Amazon and oracle
Amazon Alexa may lag behind Oracel Digital Assistant. Pixabay

Alexa may be your perfect living room assistant, but when it comes to specific queries with particular vocabulary from enterprises, it lags behind in rich capabilities that Oracle Digital Assistant (ODA) has to offer, a top company executive has stressed.

Oracle Digital Assistant can become your intelligent front-end — your smart router that’s able to send all your specific questions to relevant bots, according to Suhas Uliyar, VP-Product Management, Oracle Digital Assistant and Integration Cloud.

“It knows how to handle conflicts, manage security and so on and so forth. It has got Artificial Intelligence (AI) and is AI-trained so we call the routing of your questions to be relevant, and call it a skill now. Instead of bot, it’s a skill,” Uliyar told IANS during an interaction.

According to him, there are a couple of differences compared to Alexa as it works on the same model.

“Alexa is very implicit, where you have to say — Alexa, ask this skill to do something. While Oracle Digital Assistant is both explicit and implicit and you don’t need to sort of say ‘go ask the HCM (Human Capital Management) bot,’ for instance. It’ll just figure out that the question is for HCM bot and will answer accordingly,” Uliyar elaborated.

The other thing is to use the word ‘assistant’ and, according to him, we are overloading the term ‘assistant’ because if you have an ‘assistant’, she or he is smart enough to understand who you are, what your preferences are, know how you work.

“Most of the chatbots respond to a simple question and answer. Next time, it will probably remember who you are. So, the whole context is memory, and also the process side of things,” the Oracle executive added.

Oracle Digital Assistant provides the platform and tools to easily build AI-powered assistants that connect to your backend applications.

The digital assistant uses AI for natural language processing and understanding, to automate engagements with conversational interfaces that respond instantly, improve user satisfaction, and increase business efficiencies.

Most of those voice-enabled application programming interfaces (APIs) are being trained using what’s called Open Common Domain Models, which means that it understands our normal speaking style and content.

“What if an enterprise has a specific vocabulary? For example, a very common thing in Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) is what’s EBITDA for a company. You try saying EBITDA to Alexa or any other such assistant in the market today, and you’ll most likely draw a blank,” Uliyar told IANS.

Oracle AI
Oracle digital assistant uses AI for natural language processing and understanding. Pixabay

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) is a measure of a company’s operating performance.

According to him, to serve customers with delightful experiences every single time, there has to be a lot of innovation happening — whether it’s mobile, chatbots, Blockchain, AI or AR/VR.

“With all these new realities, what enterprises really need is a platform that can pull that ‘holistic experience’ altogether. That’s sort of the topmost challenge that enterprise customers want to solve,” he noted.

Oracle Digital Assistant is very sophisticated. It has got deep learning and is based on a technology called Sequence-to-Sequence vectoring and creates what we call as logical forms of the statement.

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“We call it a deep semantic parsing. It’s the underlying technology and is very different given the advancements of deep learning. We can do a much better job instead of understanding the linguistic constructs, versus in the past. This is quite a bit of advancement. We’re definitely very excited about pushing the boundaries,” said Uliyar. (IANS)