Alexa is about to use crowd-sourcing to answer questions



Congratulations, you’re the latest source Alexa will use to answer questions.

Amazon announced that it will launch a new scheme, called Alexa Answers, with the goal of helping Alexa answer difficult questions that would’ve normally stumped the assistant. Interestingly, it’s powered by Alexa users. Amazon’s VP of Alexa revealed in a blog post that, while Alexa can answer many questions people are asking it every day, “every once in a while, customers throw curve balls”.

He said questions like “Where was Barbara Bush buried?” or “Who wrote the score for Lord of the Rings?” or “What’s cork made out of?” or “Where do bats go in the winter?” are the types of requests that Alexa typically has trouble answering. But now, with Alexa Answers, Amazon can invite Alexa users to help answer these questions through a new Alexa Answers website.  

(Let’s just agree to ignore that people are asking where Barbara Bush is buried and why they want this information.)

Amazon said there will be various topics that users can select from to find questions already posed by other users. Then, going forward, when Alexa is asked these questions by someone, the assistant will use the crowd-sourced answers users provided – while noting the answer were submitted by an Amazon customer. Amazon hasn’t said how people are being invited or selected to participate in answering these various questions.

It’s easy to see the potential in this; while testing the feature internally, Amazon added over 100,000 responses. However, we can imagine Alexa turning into something that spreads fake news and can’t be totally trusted. According to Fast Company, Amazon hopes to mitigate this problem by allowing users to vote up or down on whether they think a response was helpful or accurate.

If an answer has too many down votes, it will be removed.





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