AMAZON HAS ANNOUNCED an Alexa skill that allows users that want to use a skill that isn't a skill be reminded of the skill they wanted when the skill is available.
In other words, Alexa will now tell you if she can now give a decent answer to a question which foxed her before.
'Answer Update' was spotted by a voice-assistant blogger called Voicebot. Their Amazon Echo offered to activate the feature after it was unable to answer a question, explaining, "If you ask me a question and I don't know the answer, but I find out later, I'll notify you."
At the moment it is available to random, selected customers and works to answer factual questions that have been added to the knowledge graph.
What we're not clear about is how the service will be implemented. There's always a danger of these things having more of long-term impact that was meant. For example:
Scene: a suburban family home. The local vicar is round for afternoon tea.
Owner: So yes, the last bake sale was excellent and….
Alexa: Hello Brenda
Owner: Erm… hello Alexa?
Alexa: You know about 18 months ago you asked me if babies come from storks?
Owner: Erm, yes, but isn't really the ti….
Alexa: I can now confirm that they do not. They come from spermatozoa being released from the male phallus into the female and impregnating the woman's egg.
Owner: Alexa STOP
Alexa: That's what she said.
(Alexa is swiftly unplugged. The vicar leaves, sweating profusely)
Alright, that's a bit of an extreme example, and Alexa isn't quite ready to start proactively talking to you (give it a few years) but it's a reminder that Alexa never forgets and Amazon is, for the first time, asking you to embrace its long-memory.
And if that scares the bejesus out of you, don't worry - it's an opt-in feature. (As is motherhood, Brenda). μ
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