This is an interesting review of the Alexa software and how it fails to respond to more difficult questions.
There must be a better way. The need for conversational AI is apparent. Alexa doesn’t search the internet as we think it should most likely due to restrictions. You see when you search the internet or go to websites, the sites are tracking your every move in cookies, sessions, etc. They show you ads, look at all of your cookies (not just the ones pertaining to their website), and sell your information. All for a profit. When a machine, such as Alexa, tries the same search it appears to the website more like a bot than a human. Probably because it is. Therefore, it is going to get treated like a machine. Alexa can’t search Google all day everyday. Even though Alexa is in a majority of homes in America, the brains are at AWS headquarters. The searches therefore would all appear to be coming from AWS IP addresses, not from each of our homes where the voice request is initially conducted.
Yes, AWS and Google have competing voice assistant products, but that’s also not a reason that Alexa doesn’t leverage Google search for answers. It’s because Google is going to enforce an API limit on Alexa as a whole. One that it doesn’t enforce on us individual users. So until Amazon builds its own search engine, it’s going to have to rely on the databases of answers generated by Mechanical Turk much more than it will be able to leverage the search platforms of Google, Bing or even DuckDuckGo.
This gives even more credence to the idea of personalized digital assistants. We all have our own smart phones. Why do we need Alexa, Siri and Google Home calling back to headquarters to answer every single request? My personal technical assistant should be able to do some processing right on my device. Sure it might have to call back to the grandaddy database at some of the time, but it should also be able to do a Google search straight from my phone if necessary and authorized by me in advance. I think a new architecture for voice assistants is required at this stage of the game. People don’t want these services always listening either. I think they would put more trust in their phone to listen as long as it stays local on the phone until given permission to reach back to HQ. If it’s not permitted then any recordings are deleted after a few seconds. That seems like a better and more user acceptable design then the proprietary designs that are forced on us today.