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Saturday, November 12, 2022

Cutting Back on Alexa AI?

Was just thinking about this.  Alexa seems to have stopped getting much more clever.   Shes OK, like Siri and Google, but not very noticeably better.  Is more general AI the the biggest cost element? 

Alexa Might Not Get Much Smarter Than It Is Right Now  in Wired

Plus: Apple pays for more emergency satellite tech, LG is working on a stretchy screen, and we answer all your burning questions about Mastodon.

"HEY ALEXA, CAN you make some money?"

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Amazon is aiming to cut costs by slimming down some of its less profitable departments. The big one is Alexa, Amazon’s voice assistant software. Despite Alexa’s existence inside millions of Echo devices and other smart speakers around the world, the business of building, supporting, and licensing a voice assistant platform has apparently been less profitable than Amazon hoped. (According to WSJ, the Alexa business has been operating at a $5 billion-per-year loss.)

Amazon has a couple options here. It can either invest in Alexa and work to add more functions, or scale back its efforts to improve the service and let it exist as is. However, as the WSJ report notes, most users typically get into a habit of only using a few key voice commands. If that’s the case, it may make more sense for Amazon to let Alexa be instead of continuing to add more features.

Alexa is not the only voice assistant with an uncertain future. Google made a similar move in October, when part of its cost cutting restructuring plan de-emphasized the program that puts Google Assistant into partner devices like smart speakers. Both of these reprioritizations come as companies across the technosphere lay off thousands of employees. It may not be the end of an era exactly, but it’s clear the companies don’t see their voice assistants as top priorities when facing an economic downturn.  ... ' 

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