HAL: Look Dave, I can see you’re really upset about this. I honestly think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and think things over.
With a nod to Hal, from 2001 A Space Odyssey, Alexa may soon gain a skill some humans have trouble with: the ability to detect irritation and offer an apology.
Citing an unnamed source, MIT Technology Review reported that Alexa, the cloud-based voice service that powers Amazon’s Echo platform and other devices, may soon “include better language skills and perhaps the ability to recognize the emotional tenor of your voice.”
Looking to stay ahead of Google’s recently announce Home and a possible entry by Apple, the Alexa team are exploring natural-language processing techniques and ways to sense feelings or emotions in a person’s voice. “How human affect is recognized and then reflected by [Alexa’s] voice will be a key area of [Amazon’s] R&D,” the source told MIT Technology Review.
For instance, let’s say you’re asking Alexa for the weather in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the voice assistant keeps giving you the responses for Vancouver, Washington. A simple mistake, but one that might just send some people over the edge. Soon, Alexa may be able to recognize it has pissed you off, and say sorry for the mix-up. This ability to add human-like emotion to the voice assistant could enable Alexa to seem more empathetic.
Alexa has been busy mastering new skills as of late. With over 1,000 skills announced recently, the voice assistant can add events to your Google calendar, dim your lights, keep tabs on your fitness, and tell you when the next bus is going to be at a stop near you.