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Amazon To ‘Outsource’ Alexa Responses To Users

DATE POSTED:September 12, 2019

Amazon will now allow users to respond to questions that Alexa cannot answer.

The new system will enable people to earn “points” each time the assistant shares one of their answers, according to CNBC. The eCommerce giant said it will use a combination of algorithms and human editors to help vet responses, as well as a system of user up and down votes to eliminate inappropriate responses.

The company first revealed its plans for Alexa Answers late last year, describing it as an invite-only program that asks customers to submit answers to Alexa’s more difficult questions.

The new program aims to expand the smart digital assistant’s knowledge base so it can better compete with the Google Assistant and Apple’s Siri. Last year, Gene Munster and Will Thompson, two researchers from Loup Ventures, tested Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, Siri and Google Assistant. They found that Siri correctly answered 74.6 percent of the 800 questions administered. Alexa answered 72.5 percent correctly, Cortana answered 63.4 percent and Google Assistant scored the highest at 87.9 percent.

The questions were from four categories: local information; general information; navigation; and commerce. The researchers also scored the assistants on correct answers to commands.

Loup Ventures also explained how much each assistant improved over time.

“Over a 12-month period, Google Home improved by seven percentage points, Echo by nine points, Siri (nine-month) by 22 points, and Cortana by seven points in terms of questions answered correctly,” the report said.

Despite its test performance, Alexa is found in more than 60,000 smart home devices from 7,400 companies, making it the most-used voice assistant on the market, according to a report from earlier this year. That’s up from just 12,000 devices a year earlier. The number of products that support Alexa has grown 200 percent in the past three quarters.

The report also showed a wide gap between Alexa and its rivals. Google Assistant, as of October of last year, worked in around 10,000 devices from more than 1,000 companies.