Everyone is talking about Alexa and Alexa being a status symbol. Truth be told, only its users know how difficult it is to converse with Alexa.
For one, the user has to learn the specific commands to perform basic functions like asking Alexa what the weather, the time, etc. Also, playing a specific music genre isn’t as easy as it sounds. Guess what? Even analysts hold a similar opinion.
“The problem is simply that Alexa (and all other others) is far too stupid to be able to hold a meaningful conversation with a user. Google Assistant is currently the best but remains woefully short of what one considers a useful assistant.”
This was one of the statements made by Richard Windsor, an analyst at an investment research organization, in 2017. Sadly, it’s true even today after more than five years. This statement came when Amazon released Amazon Show, i.e., an Alexa device with a screen. He wasn’t very impressed and labeled the new device as an attempt to compensate for the huge shortfall in Alexa’s cognitive ability.
Alexa and even other voice assistants like Google and Siri are in the same boat. It isn’t easy to have a meaningful conversation with any of them. Not to forget, they have been in the market for a while now, and there seems to be no improvement in their performance. Is that the most artificial intelligence can come up with?
Voice assistant hasn’t made sense to many from the beginning. It’s only the artificial hype created that has taken it so far. Unless they could make some improvements to the way users can interact with Alexa, we don’t think AI is a necessity.
Most users haven’t used Alexa yet, and no doubt they aren’t feeling any lack of it. Who would like to talk to a speaker?
Nevertheless, even if some people find time to do so, Alexa makes it difficult. While it might seem that the technology should be improving with time, it does not seem to be the case – is Alexa getting dumber?
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Why Is Alexa So Dumb?
Even though technology is getting better every day, we still don’t know what AI can really do (Artificial Intelligence). A lot of people find that using Alexa is more of a chore than a help. Many people haven’t really enjoyed using their voice assistant. So far, they have said that the device is too stupid to understand anything they have said.
Also, if you’re tired of people asking why Alexa is so stupid, there’s more than one simple answer. When you use your voice to tell something made by humans what to do, a lot of things come into play. For example, some people have said that Alexa doesn’t always understand the words they say.
When this happens, it’s also hard to find the right words. They don’t always make sense. Even so, this can get better over time. Since you’re talking to a machine when you use Alexa, you’ll need to set up groups or rooms. It’s important that Alexa knows how things fit together in the real world.
In the same way, commands are also hierarchies. Think of each command as picking an item and choosing what to do with it. This will make processing much easier since not every object can use every subcommand. We think this way of thinking is caused by how arguments and commands work in a command-line interface. Most likely, things will get better here as well.
In reality, we’re not talking about real artificial intelligence. In reality, it’s more like an illusion of AI, where devices recognize keywords and start running pre-defined commands to search for a specific answer or carry out a command. This is true not only for Alexa but also for every other voice-activated virtual assistant.
Reasons why users found Alexa dumb (or, in not-so-rude words, ‘inefficient’)
- Alexa has to be kept plugged in at all times. This is a major turn-off in itself.
- Connecting to the Alexa app, downloading skills, and connecting to your music streaming service before you can even make a command
- When you make your first command, Hey Alexa, what’s the time? You realize you can do it faster by seeing a wall clock or even on your mobile lying beside you.
- Not to forget that Alexa is always listening, and it stores your recorded chat on a remote cloud server. It also sells such data (to AWS) if you do not manually delete the recorded conversations.
- Playing songs of your choice is a total nightmare as well.
- When grouping more than one Alexa speaker, the difficulty of handling it increases. If you have 2 or more Alexa in a single living room, labeling them and controlling smart devices in your home complicates the situation.
- Also, Alexa is dumb when using it as a remote for your smart TV. All you can do is change the volume and switch the TV on/off. Changing channels or putting a show you want on Netflix is still a far thought.
A few years back, Alexa sounded good, as it was a new concept. Such excitement was short-lived as the product showed no major improvements. Within a few years, Alexa’s presence seems outdated as users’ expectations are increased with the involvement of AI and machine learning in human lives.
Now, Alexa is dumb if it fails to be of any convenience rather than just a new invention. It’s common for any device to become obsolete if it fails to provide users with its improvisations.
Nevertheless, if you already have an Alexa device and want to make the best of it, here’s what you should do to sound Alexa less dumb.
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What to do to ensure Alexa doesn’t dumb
Set up groups/ rooms
Naming each of your Alexa speakers allows Alexa to respond well. Name your Alexa speaker according to the room in which they are placed. Putting your Alexa devices in specific rooms and naming them so allows Alexa to identify the speaker you are talking to.
Alexa responds to its users based on catching keywords used in commands. It’s a machine, after all, and cannot decipher anything that isn’t fed into it. Make sure your commands include the specific keywords for Alexa to respond effectively.
Set up Voice ID
If Alexa can’t recognize the words, you can train Alexa to recognize your voice. This feature came after users complained about Alexa not recognizing their voices.
As per this, users can set their voice ID, which enables Alexa to recognize the accent and words used by the users better. Users can create their own profile under Settings and create a Voice ID.
When creating a Voice ID, Alexa directs users to say a few commands in their voice, like Alexa, what’s the temperature outside, and other questions. This allows Alexa to understand the user’s dialect and dialogue delivery better.
It also has other features like enabling third-party skills to recognize voice better.
If you want to automate your tasks on Alexa, you can set Routines. However, setting Routines is a task in itself. It’s not as user-friendly yet. However, if you have already cracked it, you can just enable one of your routines to get the tasks done. For instance, a sleeping routine will dim your lights, play night sounds and set your room as per the routines set.
How to Make Alexa Easy to Use?
Well, the answer is very clear: no matter how much it changes or improves, it will always just be a device that a person made.
Even though it keeps getting better, you can make some changes to make Alexa work better for you. When you tell Alexa something with your voice, a lot of important things come into play.
Most of the time, people think Alexa is stupid because it gets its commands wrong or doesn’t understand them. If that’s the case, you can try giving more specific commands.
You can also find a number of guides on Google that will help you get the most out of your Alexa devices.
So, is Alexa getting dumber or smarter?
In short, Alexa is trying to make improvements with each update. It’s working hard not to be called dumb. However, there are still many loopholes it has to cover not to be called so. It is still on its halfway to unlocking the full potential of AI.
Those who are making the best of Alexa, even after her being dumb, are the smartest of all.