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Amazon wants you to help fill Alexa's knowledge gaps

Amazon wants you to help fill Alexa's knowledge gaps

Amazon has now opened up its crowdsourcing program to fill in gaps in Alexa's knowledge. The goal is to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the disappointing times when the only answer the digital voice assistant can offer is: "Hmm, I don’t know that one."

Amazon first made noise about this back in December 2018. A blog post stated that the company's vision has always been that Alexa will be able to answer all questions in all forms, from anywhere in the world. Now, in addition to machine learning, Amazon is calling upon the public to educate Alexa, with the launch of Alex Answers to everyone.

The process is quite simple. First, you find a question that Alexa is currently struggling with and write an answer. Alexa will share that answer with other users who use their smart speaker to ask the corresponding question. As an incentive for offering up your knowledge for free to one of the world's richest companies, Amazon has gamified the system. Helpers earn points for contributing answers, unlocking achievements as they progress.

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You can collect points for answers with Alexa Answers / © Amazon (screenshot)

Alexa Answers was previously only available via invitation-only, but now Amazon is opening it up to everyone. You'll have to create an Amazon account before you can start contributing answers.

Isn't this wide open to abuse?

Little information is available about how Amazon is screening these answers. The only hint is that Amazon says that after a customer submits the answer, the answer may be given to Alexa customers. The system does filter out answers that include, "obscene, threatening, defamatory, invasive of privacy, or infringing of intellectual property rights (including publicity rights)" and users can flag answers that are wrong or offensive. But how does the system know if an answer is correct or incorrect?

Trolls tend to be inventive and it will be interesting to see if misinformation starts slipping through the net. The rating system, where Alexa users can vote if an answer was useful or not, could also be abused to push false or mischievous answers to gain more credibility.

Are you going to help educate Alexa?

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  • No. Just another example of company pretending to get things for free and not giving anything in exchange while getting more rich at the expenses of the consumer