Amazon has launched a new, crowdsourced supplement designed to help improve its voice assistant. Alexa Answers lets users contribute their own responses to queries that stumped the voice AI. It began as a beta program in December, and collected hundreds of thousands of answers since then. Now Alexa Answers is open to all users.
Questions such as “where do bats go in the winter?” or “what’s cork made out of?” were given as examples that Alexa couldn’t answer when Amazon introduced the program. Now, any Amazon user can submit their own responses to potentially be incorporated into Alexa’s databases if they receive the most community support.
The tech company has found that Alexa still has gaps in knowledge when the AI is asked trivia-style questions. A test of virtual assistants from December 2018 confirmed that, with Alexa answering 73% of questions correctly compared with 75% for Siri and 88% for Google Assistant.
In practice, the Alexa Answers responses will be credited to “an Amazon customer.” Amazon said it has built in systems to try to ensure that crowdsourcing doesn’t lead to jokes or profanity being included in Alexa.
“This new feature is just one example of the many ways we’re continuously working to grow Alexa’s knowledge,” an Amazon representative said. “As always, we’ll continue to evolve the experience based on customer feedback.”