If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
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Rumors started circulating last week that Amazon was exploring a free, ad-supported tier of its streaming music service. Turns out there was something to those rumblings. Today, the commerce giant announced that Alexa device owners in the US will be able to listen to top playlists and stations on Amazon Music at no additional charge, even if they are not Amazon Prime subscribers. Of course, this news also comes on the same day that Amazon's frenemies over at Google launched ad-supported free YouTube Music streaming on Google Home smart devices. Listeners will be able to ask Alexa to play music by creating stations based in a song, artist, era or genre.
Your message has been sent. There was an error emailing this page. You don't need to live in a smart home to benefit from a Wi-Fi-connected smart speaker. Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana, and other digital assistants can help you in dozens of ways, and you don't have to lift a finger to summon them--just speak their names. If you already know you want a smart speaker, scroll down for our top recommendations.
The number of smart speakers in homes and businesses will almost double this year, and within a couple of years these chatty new devices will likely outnumber our former gadget of choice, the tablet. There will be roughly 208 million smart speakers, like Amazon's Echo and Google Home, in use around the world by the end of this year, up from 114 million last year (82.4% growth), according to a forecast from Canalys. The tech industry analyst firm predicts that smart speakers will soon overtake tablets, probably next year. Although Canalys sees rapid growth in smart speakers, it predicts a gradual decline in tablets over the period covered by the forecast. One reason for the decline in tablets may be that smart speakers are taking over some of their functions in the home, such as controlling lights or playing music.
Sales of smart speakers are soaring despite some people's concerns over privacy, with Amazon's Alexa leading the charge into homes in various Echo devices and Google's Home and Assistant snapping at its heels. They come in various shapes, sizes and prices, but if you just want to dip your toe into the burgeoning voice-powered world, what's the cheapest way to get Alexa or Google Assistant into your home? Voice assistants don't actually need a dedicated speaker to work. If you have a modern smartphone chances are you either already have Google Assistant, if you have an Android phone, or can install the app on an iPhone. The same goes for Amazon's Alexa, which can even be set as the default voice assistant on an Android phone.
There are hundreds of smart home devices available today, but some of them are more popular than others. In fact, there's a select group of smart gadgets that have near cult followings--we're talking thousands of users who swear by these devices. Here's why people are obsessed with them and whether they're worth the investment. The second-gen Echo is the best in its class. It should come as no surprise that the Amazon Echo makes this list.
If you use a smart speaker, you know all of the conveniences and delights that make it more than just a glorified paper weight. But, admit it, you've probably given it some privacy side-eye from time to time. After all, it is a microphone that just sits in your house waiting for a wake word to start recording what you say. Here's how to tighten the reins on what Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri can hear, when, and how it gets used. It's a good time to take stock.
Amazon has admitted that employees listen to customer voice recordings from Echo and other Alexa-enabled smart speakers. The online retail giant said its staff "reviewed" a sample of Alexa voice assistant conversations in order to improve speech recognition. "This information helps us train our speech recognition and natural language understanding systems, so Alexa can better understand your requests, and ensure the service works well for everyone," Amazon said in a statement. We'll tell you what's true. You can form your own view.
Tens of millions of people use smart speakers and their voice software to play games, find music or trawl for trivia. Millions more are reluctant to invite the devices and their powerful microphones into their homes out of concern that someone might be listening. Inc. employs thousands of people around the world to help improve the Alexa digital assistant powering its line of Echo speakers. The team listens to voice recordings captured in Echo owners' homes and offices. The recordings are transcribed, annotated and then fed back into the software as part of an effort to eliminate gaps in Alexa's understanding of human speech and help it better respond to commands.
Amazon, Apple and Google all employ staff who listen to customer voice recordings from their smart speakers and voice assistant apps. News site Bloomberg highlighted the topic after speaking to Amazon staff who "reviewed" Alexa recordings. All three companies say voice recordings are occasionally reviewed to improve speech recognition. But the reaction to the Bloomberg article suggests many customers are unaware that humans may be listening. The news site said it had spoken to seven people who reviewed audio from Amazon Echo smart speakers and the Alexa service.