Amazon might not have your favorite t-shirt, but it certainly has something big in store for its virtual assistant. One day, or maybe sooner than that, Alexa may have a proactive role in directing our lives. It’ll be interpreting data, making decisions or maybe summoning us when having something to share.
Karen Hao, a member of MIT Technology Review, recently interviewed Rohit Prasad, the scientist in charge of Alexa’s development and turns out this interaction had a terrifying effect over its audience. Letting bad actors run amok with AI and our data can be dangerous, and if you need a refresher, try remembering the Cambridge Analytica Scandal.
Not to mean, Mr. Prasad is a bad actor but, a talented scientist. However, he and his firm probably have access to more of our private data than Facebook and Twitter combined. And in the words of Kanye West, no person or organization should have that much power.
In his report, Hao has revealed parts of his interview with the head scientist, who delivered only rough details about where Alexa is headed next. According to Prasad, Amazon is planning for Alexa to transition from passive to self-made proactive interactions. Rather than waiting for requests to be responded, Alexa will be anticipating what its users might want. The flux of the plan is for Alexa to turn into an omnipresent companion who will help shape and orchestrate your life. This will require the voice assistant to get to know you better than before.
This idea of Alexa being omnipresent and looking to orchestrate lives is alarming. But, for now, the work Prasad and his team are doing isn’t exactly scary. For those who haven’t interacted with Alexa yet, are both missing out and not missing out.
Virtual Assistants today, have become important parts of our lives, miraculously intuitive, however, frustratingly limited. During one of your interactions, you’ll say “Alexa, play some music”, and it will play songs that touch the depth of your soul as if it knows your choices better than you do. And, the next time you ask her something, you might find yourself engaged in a three-minute-long argument.