Amazon is giving Alexa notions with generative AI

21 Sep 2023

Image: © JEROSenneGs/

The tech giant said it is using a custom LLM to enhance Alexa’s ability to process nuance, understand non-verbal cues and have an opinion of its own.

Amazon has unveiled a range of upcoming product updates to help customers integrate more technology into their everyday lives.

The company’s Devices and Services Event unveiled a new range of smart glasses, outdoor security cameras, smart devices for children and more. But like many tech giants, the biggest focus appeared to be in the realm of generative AI.

Amazon said it is bringing a major update to Alexa that will enhance the virtual assistant’s ability to “process nuance and ambiguity”, in an effort to make it smarter and more conversational.

The company said it has developed a new large-language model (LLM) that is custom-built for voice interactions, getting real-time information and having efficient smart home control.

Amazon said this update will also give Alexa more of a personality, giving it a point of view and the ability to answer opinion-based questions, such as which movies ‘should’ have won an Oscar.

“You don’t want a rote, robotic companion in your home, and I’d argue Alexa’s personality is one of the biggest reasons for Alexa’s broad adoption,” said Daniel Rausch, Alexa and Fire TV VP. “As we’ve always said, the most boring dinner party is one where nobody has an opinion – and, with this new LLM, Alexa will have a point of view, making conversations more engaging.”

The virtual assistant is also getting a conversation boost by being able to look at a person’s body language – through sensors in the Echo smart speaker – in order to pick up on non-verbal cues.

“We’ve also focused on reducing latency so conversations flow naturally, without pause and responses are the right length for voice – not the equivalent of listening to paragraph after paragraph read aloud,” Rausch said.

Amazon has been shifting its focus to AI in recent months, like many companies in the tech sector. Last month, CEO Andy Jassy said that every single one of Amazon’s businesses are working on “multiple generative AI initiatives”.

The company is also working on summaries of product reviews on its store, with the help of generative AI. Amazon said the goal is to make it easier to see “common themes” in reviews for a product.

10 things you need to know direct to your inbox every weekday. Sign up for the Daily Brief, Silicon Republic’s digest of essential sci-tech news.

Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic