Alexa Will Answer Questions Using Reuters News Stories
Amazon Alexa will now source answers to user questions from Reuters news stories. The voice assistant will integrate more than 45,000 Reuters stories per month into the database it searches when users pose questions.
Vocal Reuters News
Reuters is one of the largest news wire services in the world. Its stories will be referenced as answers to questions put to Alexa about the news. That includes politics, sports, business, and entertainment stories, as well as questions about any ongoing breaking news. To access the stories, Alexa will use the Reuters API and metadata information to find and share the relevant information. Alexa can also apply its machine learning software to its now larger pool of data. Amazon first worked with Reuters in 2017, making Reuters Now one of the approved flash news briefings on the Echo Show.
“We are delighted to be working with Amazon on this project. Reuters news covers the real world in real time, providing trusted intelligence that powers humans and machines to make informed decisions,” Reuters president Michael Friedenberg said in announcing the arrangement. “This collaboration calls on that strength and also leverages the metadata and best-in-class API that make us an ideal partner for technology companies and voice services.”
Reliable Voice Assistants
Voice assistant developers naturally want people to trust that the answers offered by their products are as reliable as possible. When someone queries Alexa or another voice assistant, the AI relies on a mix of digital databases to provide answers. Wikipedia, IMDb, and other public hubs of information are commonly cited.
Amazon doesn’t rely only on public sources of information, however. Last December, knowledge database Wolfram Alpha collaborated with Amazon to include its database to Alexa’s answer pool. Wolfram Alpha’s information focuses on science, mathematics, and other academic subjects. More recently, Alexa started crowdsourcing answers to questions it could not answer via the Alexa Answers webpage. People can submit their answers to any of the unanswered questions and those answers may then be used as Alexa’s response to that question. As a vetting tool, other users can “like” or “dislike” the submitted responses.
Incorporating a massive and usually trustworthy news service like Reuters into Alexa is a good way for Amazon to achieve the twin goals of enticing users into choosing Alexa as a news source and providing another feed of data to train the AI. Alexa needs these kinds of features and improvements against its competition. Google Assistant repeatedly outdoes Alexa in the yearly voice assistant IQ test run by Loup Ventures. The torrent of news produced by Reuters could help change that equation in Alexa’s favor.