Wired: Alexa’s Had a Big Year, Mostly Thanks to Machine Learning

Wired: Alexa’s Had a Big Year, Mostly Thanks to Machine Learning. “It’s fair to say that when Amazon introduced the first Echo speaker in the fall of 2014, most people weren’t quite sure what to make of it. In the intervening years, Echo and the broader universe of Alexa-powered devices have transitioned from curiosity to ubiquity. But while you can find Alexa in just about everything—including, yes, a microwave—the real progress Amazon’s voice assistant made in 2018 came less from breadth than from depth.”

Slashgear: Google Assistant was the smartest AI in 2018, but others are catching up

Slashgear: Google Assistant was the smartest AI in 2018, but others are catching up. “Loup Ventures has published its annual smart speaker IQ test results, revealing how the four big personal assistant AIs performed when asked 800 questions each. Compared to the previous year, three products saw the biggest gain in IQ points and were able to answer a substantially higher percentage of questions versus 2017. However, Google Assistant still beat them all across the board.”

VentureBeat: Some Alexa Prize chatbots exposed customer data, talked filth

VentureBeat: Some Alexa Prize chatbots exposed customer data, talked filth. “Millions of users of Amazon’s Echo speakers have grown accustomed to the soothing strains of Alexa, the human-sounding virtual assistant that can tell them the weather, order takeout and handle other basic tasks in response to a voice command. So a customer was shocked last year when Alexa blurted out: ‘Kill your foster parents.'”

Digital Trends: Amazon starts crowdsourcing Alexa’s answers. What could go wrong?

Digital Trends: Amazon starts crowdsourcing Alexa’s answers. What could go wrong? BESIDES EVERYTHING? “According to Amazon’s DayOne blog, until now, the Alexa division has added the answers to common potential questions to a data bank, merging information from multiple sources…. Alexa Answers will change that, although the program is by invitation only. Starting December 6, 2018, Amazon is sending email invites to certain customers to begin contributing answers for Alexa. The customers will be selected by their history of writing product reviews or engagement with Alexa, The Verge reports.”

Make Tech Easier: Which Is the Best Voice Assistant? Here’s What We Found

Make Tech Easier: Which Is the Best Voice Assistant? Here’s What We Found. “It’s still far too early to declare a winner in the ever-evolving AI assistant market, but we can at least take a look at the top contenders. Google Assistant, Siri, and Alexa are currently dominating the market, but Microsoft’s Cortana and Samsung’s Bixby are making progress, as is Baidu’s Duer in China.”

Mashable: Amazon is beefing up Alexa with real-time election data

Mashable: Amazon is beefing up Alexa with real-time election data. “In the run-up to election day in the U.S. (Nov. 6, if you weren’t sure), Amazon is giving Alexa a more civic mind by beefing up the assistant’s knowledge base of election data, including where to vote, real-time results, and even explanations of ballot measures.”