Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, may soon be challenging human politicians as the tech giant rolls out a trial of the Alexa political skill.
Alexa apps, known as skills, allow users of the ubiquitous digital assistant to extend her usefulness by adding new functionality geared towards specific areas of daily life.
Want Alexa to control your lights? Install the Philips Hue skill and demonstrate omnipotence over your domestic domain by declaring “Alexa, let there be light!”
Fancy a duvet day? Equipped with the Sicky skill, Alexa can call your boss, convincing her you’ve contracted ManFlu and will finish that important budget report after you’ve recuperated in intensive care for a couple of weeks.
With Alexa flourishing in both the home and office, Amazon boffins have their sights set on the corridors of power.
“I was watching Boris Johnson being interview by Andrew Marr when it first occurred to me that we could repurpose Alexa’s neural network to perform the function of a basic politician,” says Amazon AI engineer, Janina Kowalski.
“Although we’ve worked hard to improve Alexa’s ability to answer simple questions, she still doesn’t get it right all the time.
“Watching the way the prime minister was deliberately misunderstanding the line of questioning and responding to Marr with inappropriate and unconnected answers, it struck me that maybe what we’ve been considering as a bug could be made into a feature.”
Amazon hopes to roll out a UK trial of the Alexa political skill in early 2020 and expects some junior ministers will handover a proportion of their Question Time appearances to the mother of Skynet in time for the autumn conference season.