In December, Amazon launched a crowdsourced Q&A platform into beta with the goal of improving Alexa's ability to answer questions. That feature, Alexa Answers, is now live to all. Amazon says the feature was well-received by the early community of invite-only participants, who have since contributed hundreds of thousands of answers that have been shared with Alexa customers millions of times. To differentiate these answers from other Alexa responses, they're attributed to "an Amazon customer." As the company explained at launch, there are thousands of answers that had previously stumped Alexa, like "Where was Barbara Bush buried?," "Who wrote the score for Lord of the Rings?," "What's cork made out of?," and "Where do bats go in the winter?"
Amazon is launching a new program that will let its customers answer some of the questions Alexa can't answer on its own. It's called Alexa Answers and starting today, the company will begin inviting select customers to field some of the more difficult questions posed to Amazon's assistant. "While Alexa can answer the vast majority of questions customers are asking every day," Bill Barton, Amazon's VP of Alexa Information, wrote in a blog post, "every once in a while, customers throw curve balls at us with various questions like'Where was Barbara Bush buried?' or'Who wrote the score for Lord of the Rings?' or'What's cork made out of?' or'Where do bats go in the winter?'" The company has been testing the Alexa Answers program internally, and in the past month, it has added more than 100,000 responses. Going forward, customers who have been invited to participate will be able to scroll through topic categories on the Alexa Answers website, choose questions they want to answer and submit a response.
When Alexa doesn't know the answer to a question, many of us just give up, or just end up looking for the answer on our phone. Not one to leave loose ends untied is Amazon, which is rolling out a feature called Answer Update on Alexa devices this week, spotted by Voicebox. SEE ALSO: 'SNL' and'It's Always Sunny' writers lend their talents to a new anti-theft Alexa app The feature will alert users when Alexa has found the answer to a question it previously did not know when initially asked. Usually when the voice assistant is stumped, it'll return an answer like "I don't know that, but I'm always learning," "I can't find the answer to the question I heard," or "Sorry, I didn't understand the question." Now if you turn on Answer Update, it'll reply with "If you ask me a question and I don't know the answer but I find out later, I'll notify you."
Despite Alexa's extensive information database, there are still thousands of questions that stump the smart assistant. But starting today, Amazon is inviting select users to help answer some of the tough questions that Alexa couldn't. The Alexa Answers feature essentially crowdsources answers from users to expand Alexa's knowledge base. When a user submits an answer, the information is turned into a voice response and given to Alexa customers with the preface, "According to an Amazon customer". "While Alexa can answer the vast majority of questions customers are asking every day, every once in a while, customers throw curve balls at us with various questions like'Where was Barbara Bush buried?' or'Who wrote the score for Lord of the Rings?' or'What's cork made out of?' or'Where do bats go in the winter?',"