Alexa’s favorite beer is Budweiser, and whether or not you agree with it, it’ll one day also have thoughts on TV shows, films, and other subjects. As reported by TechCrunch, Amazon’s voice assistant, which already offers information about what’s showing on TV, will also be able to personally recommend its favorite films, for example. “Having an opinion makes you more interesting, even as an assistant,” Amazon Fire TV VP Marc Whitten told TechCrunch. Whitten states that speaking to an assistant should be like having a conversation rather than just asking fact-based questions. “This is the 2018 version of the video buff at the video rental store,” he said.
While Alexa can respond to questions like “What should I watch?” based on your viewing habits and preferences, these new recommendations instead would be entirely its own opinion. “This is the power of machine learning. One of the most interesting things we’re going at is how do you design an assistant that feels like you’re having a conversation with someone,” Whitten said. TechCrunch reports that Amazon has a separate team working on improving Alexa’s knowledge base by adding more fact-based information and noting the questions that Alexa isn’t able to answer.
Amazon’s long-term goal is for Alexa to be able to have a conversation about her own opinions and preferences without curation from the company. “At the scale we’re talking – Alexa is now launched in seven countries – you can’t editorialize opinion on everything. That doesn’t work,” said Whitten. “The ambitious goal is that you don’t have to do [human curation].” While Alexa might not have decided what its favorite movie is, it can already do some neat things like give you dating advice or let you speak to Destiny 2’s AI companion Ghost.