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Chatbots: AI-Alerts

Echo Auto: Amazon releases Alexa voice assistant for your car

The Independent - Tech

Amazon has released its first Echo device for use outside of the house, allowing users to take Alexa in their car. The company revealed the device in 2018 but it has finally come to customers in the UK and Ireland. Echo Auto plugs into a car's 12V power outlet or built-in USB port and connects to the in-car stereo via either audio jack cable or Bluetooth to enable the use of voice assistant Alexa inside the vehicle. Users are then able to use Alexa voice commands to control music, check the news, make phone calls or check their schedule without taking hands off the wheel or eyes off the road. The device gets internet connectivity by connecting to a user's smartphone and the Alexa app and using its existing data plan.

How do Siri, Google and Alexa respond to Black Lives Matter questions?

The Independent - Tech

Apple's Siri and Google's voice assistant have both been updated to respond to questions about Black Lives Matter, and rebuff the sentiment behind the response "All Lives Matter." As spotted by sports blogger David Gardner, when asked "Do black lives matter?", Google's Assistant will respond: "Black Lives Matter. Black people deserve the same freedoms afforded to everyone in this country, and recognising the injustice they face is the first step towards fixing it." When asked "Do all lives matter", the Assistant will respond: "Saying'Black Lives Matter' doesn't mean that all lives don't. It means Black lives are at risk in ways others are not."

Apple Working On Siri Improvements After Acquiring AI Startup Inductiv

International Business Times

Siri has been taking orders and answering questions far longer than other voice assistants in the market today. Apple launched the helpful feature in 2011 along with the iPhone 4S, way before Amazon could introduce the world to Alexa, and also before Google could launch the Google Assistant. Years later, despite being known as Apple's voice assistant for iPhones, HomePods and more, Siri remains considered as "lagging behind" other digital assistants, Business Insider reported. The Cupertino tech giant's latest acquisition, however, indicates that the company wants to deal with that. According to a report from Bloomberg, Apple recently acquired Inductiv Inc., a machine learning startup that has the technology to help improve Siri.

Apple's Siri violated 'the privacy of millions,' says whistleblower

The Independent - Tech

The whistleblower who exposed in 2019 that Apple contractors listened to users' Siri recordings without their knowledge or consent has gone public to protest the lack of action taken against the technology giant. In a letter, sent to all European data protection regulators, Thomas le Bonniec said that Apple had conducted a "massive violation of the privacy of millions of citizens." He wrote that although news of the case had already gone public, the technology giant "has not been subject to any kind of investigation to the best of my knowledge." Mr Le Bonniec, who was hired by one of Apple's subcontractors in Ireland called Globe Technical Services, had to listen to recordings from users and correct transcription errors. Listening to hundreds of recortings from Apple's iPhones, iPads, and Apple Watches, many of them were taken "outside of any activation of Siri" – meaning that users were not aware of the action.

The pandemic is emptying call centers. AI chatbots are swooping in

MIT Technology Review

IBM's and Google's platforms work in similar ways. They make it easy for clients to spin up chat or voice-based agents that act a lot like Alexa or Siri but are tailored to different applications. When users text or call in, they are free to speak in open-ended sentences. The system then uses natural-language processing to parse their "intent" and responds with the appropriate scripted answer or reroutes them to a human agent. For queries that can't be answered automatically, the algorithms group similar ones together to show the most commonly missed intents.

Facebook uses 1.5bn Reddit posts to create chatbot

BBC News - Technology

Facebook has launched a new chatbot that it claims is able to demonstrate empathy, knowledge and personality. "Blender" was trained using available public domain conversations which included 1.5 billion examples of human exchanges. The social media giant said 49% of people preferred interactions with the chatbot, compared with another human. But experts say training the artificial intelligence (AI) using a platform such as Reddit has its drawbacks. Numerous issues arose during longer conversations.

A New Chatbot Tries a Little Artificial Empathy


Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant can set a timer, play a song, or check the weather with ease, but for a real conversation you may as well try talking to the toaster. Speaking as naturally as a person requires common-sense understanding of the world, knowledge of facts and current events, and the ability to read another person's feelings and character. It's no wonder machines aren't all that talkative. A chatbot developed by artificial intelligence researchers at Facebook shows that combining a huge amount of training data with a little artificial empathy, personality, and general knowledge can go some way toward fostering the illusion of good chitchat. The new chatbot, dubbed Blender, combines and builds on recent advances in AI and language from Facebook and others.

Google says its new chatbot Meena is the best in the world


Google has released a neural-network-powered chatbot called Meena that it claims is better than any other chatbot out there. Data slurp: Meena was trained on a whopping 341 gigabytes of public social-media chatter--8.5 times as much data as OpenAI's GPT-2. Google says Meena can talk about pretty much anything, and can even make up (bad) jokes. Why it matters: Open-ended conversation that covers a wide range of topics is hard, and most chatbots can't keep up. At some point most say things that make no sense or reveal a lack of basic knowledge about the world.

Virtual Assistants Provide Disappointing Advice When Asked for First Aid, Emergency Information: Study


A study at Canada's University of Alberta found some virtual assistants are far better than others at providing users reliable, relevant information on medical emergencies. Researchers at the University of Alberta in Canada have found that virtual assistants do not live up to their potential in terms of providing users with reliable, relevant information on medical emergencies. The team tested four commonly used devices--Alexa, Google Home, Siri, and Cortana--using 123 questions about 39 first aid topics, including heart attacks, poisoning, nosebleeds, and splinters. The devices' responses were measured for accuracy of topic recognition, detection of the severity of the emergency, complexity of language used, and how closely the advice given fit with accepted first aid treatment and guidelines. Google Home performed the best, recognizing topics with 98% accuracy and providing relevant advice 56% of the time.

Americans are getting really creeped out by devices eavesdropping on them and tracking them

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

You've heard it a million times: Americans don't care about our online privacy. Turns out that's not really true. Anxiety levels over privacy and security are peaking as the relentless collection of online data and the steady drumbeat of data incursions and breaches take a toll. People are worried like never before about eavesdropping by smart home devices such as Google Home and the Amazon Echo or having their microphone tapped to target them with personalized ads and increasingly they want a say over how their personal information gets used, according to a survey released Tuesday to observe Data Privacy Day. More than 8 in 10 American adults expect to have control over how a business handles their data, the survey released by privacy firm DataGrail found.