With Amazon Answers, Users Can Help Alexa With the Tough Questions

Anyone who’s ever played “Stump Alexa” already knows: while Alexa is extremely helpful, her information retrieving powers do have limits. A new information-sourcing initiative through Amazon is aiming to change that.

After an extensive test in-house that added more than 100,000 answers to the voice assistant’s database, Amazon announced this week that it’s opening up its Alexa Answers crowdsourced answer program to select users, via email invitation. “In addition to advanced technology—such as machine learning and natural language understanding—and our many trustworthy information sources, we’re involving the Alexa customer community to help us answer questions Alexa can’t quite answer yet,” they shared in their company blog this week.

Addressing this gap in utility is part and parcel of this evolving method for search. The South Florida Business Journal notes that this new challenge is grounded, in part, by how queries are framed to a voice assistant versus how they’re framed through a search engine. “Asking Alexa questions will make you realize that your voice searches usually include more than five words and start with ‘how’ or ‘what.’ It will also help you understand the growing need for pages on your website that have ‘conversational content’ that, when searched, can deliver understandable answers to voice queries.” Alexa Answers will aim to make answers available to Alexa that are framed in this easily accessible manner.

It’s worth noting that Amazon users are currently able to inform one another in a number of different ways. In their blog, Amazon reminds readers “for nearly 20 years, we’ve allowed customers to offer their input on Amazon.com products through customer reviews and community-based answers.” The fidelity of this input has been addressed through features like “Verified Purchase” reviews. For the time being, this important process is even more tightly controlled; at this point, editors are being invited via email, and the pool of Alexa users selected to inform the voice assistant is small. When these crowdsourced answers are shared, they will be prefaced by a disclaimer of sorts indicating them as having come from an Alexa user.

Although this approach has been tested heavily with sites like Quora and Wikipedia, there are still some risks to having humans provide information to AI. Recently, Google had to disable portions of its SmartCompose and SmartReply software after its challenges with gender and gender pronouns. Two years ago, Microsoft’s Tay had to be taken offline after Twitter users supplied it information that made it racist.

The email-invite nature of this project may prevent some of that, but Amazon would do well to pay close attention to the data supplied, and adjust as needed to avoid embarrassing or damaging gaffes. Nevertheless, a very real danger that exists for Alexa Answers is a danger that exists whenever data is supplied to AI tools, and The Next Web’s Vishwam Sankaran put it best in reference to the Google story: “AI is only as fair as the data it learns from.”

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What Amazon Did This Week

What Amazon Did This Week

— Read on www.forbes.com/sites/paularmstrongtech/2018/10/28/what-amazon-did-this-week-7/


Despite Poor Performance, There is a Silver Lining in Twitch’s “Always On” Channels

The deep dive revealed some surprising and some not so surprising problems with the push into linear that has led some publishers on the platform to call it quits. But, while Twitch’s experiment may not have been as lucrative as both the social video service and the publishers it partnered with had hoped, the insights it revealed about the platform’s community was a silver lining for many companies distributing content via “Always On.

[READ] on-Gaming 24/7 Channels on Twitch Struggle to “Hit”, Publishers Say “Game Over.”

“We are using [our 24/7 Twitch channel] as a lab in the sense that we can try different things,” explains GM of BUZZR Mark Deejtin, who oversees the game show network’s “Always On” channel. “We can see how people react, see how people interact with the content, and really look at what are the consumption patterns of the Twitch viewer, which, quite frankly, is different from the OTT Viewer. It’s different from the people who are watching content on Pluto TV or on Netflix.”

That difference is Twitch’s community of 15 million daily visitors, which are considered to be much more interactive than communities on other social platforms.

“The biggest thing if you’re operating any kind of OTT Service — the currency you live and die by — is engagement, and if you look at engagement numbers for people who use Twitch on a regular basis, it is really far above a lot of other online platforms,” said Erick Opeka, EVP of Cinedigm’s Digital Networks, which currently runs two channels on the platform. “Part of it is that Twitch is beyond just a place to view content it’s its own heavily engaged community. There are only a few places online that have that sort of really deep engagement.”

[READ] What Machinima Learned After Launching a 24/7 Channel on Twitch

Opeka says another benefit to being on Twitch, which also includes tapping into its global community, is the immediate feedback the company receives from viewers of its two channels: ConTV, which streams free movies and TV shows, and CombatGO, a channel dedicated to martial arts.

“[What makes Twitch one of our] most valuable places to put content is the immediate feedback you get from programming. “Usually, feedback is relatively passive or you have to do some pretty extensive consumer research to get the level of immediacy that we get being on Twitch,” he explains. We’re literally getting users telling us what they think of programming. We have users telling us ‘Hey and you get this show?’ ‘What about that show?’ ‘We really love this, can you get more of this type of programming?’”

Opeka says this type of feedback has led Cinedigm to explore content acquisitions that it would have never considered, in addition to different verticals and subs genres that the company overlooked, which have since gone on to be very successful in the company’s overall ecosystem.

[READ] Mastering the Ins & Outs of Building Linear OTT Channels: Infrastructure & Programming Mix

While Twitch currently has close to a dozen linear channels streaming 24/7 on its platform, it has still not yet proved to be a viable spot to house linear content for a list of reasons. However, for all its downfalls, the company has proved to be a valuable place to engage an audience — no matter how small — and explore the interests of the rapidly growing community living on Twitch.

Learn the latest trends, insights and best practices from the brightest minds in media and technology. Sign up for SMW Insider to watch full-length sessions from official Social Media Week conferences live and on-demand.

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Facebook Boss Still Tech’s Most Popular CEO

He’s still got plenty of likes. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg still beats out Apple’s Tim Cook and all the other Silicon Valley CEOs in a nationwide popularity contest. According to a new poll conducted this week by Morning Consult, nearly half (48%) of the 1,935 registered voters surveyed view the Facebook chief favorably. About one…



How to use Instagram to build and market your creative business

Over the past months I have done a hell of a lot of reading on the subject of marketing. Pretty much every person will rave about social media, and say it’s how they got their first, second, all their sales, basically. Below are some tips that I’ve picked up that will help you build your […]