If you are Amazon and believe that voice inputs form an increasingly important technology platform, the natural response is to put your Alexa-powered smart speakers in as many places as possible. You will also give Amazon's digital assistant Alexa an expansive library of "skills" as possible.
And of course you want so many of the smartest people you can get to work on making Alexa even smarter, more intuitive and more useful, which keeps the flywheel constantly in a virtuous cycle. Amazon, of course, does all these things.
The company announced today that it is working with 14 new universities this year as part of the 2018-2019 Amazon Alexa community, of which two programs are located. One is a community focused on working with Ph.D. and postdoctoral students around topics such as machine learning and conversational AI. The other is focused on helping the Entrepreneurship Faculty to serve as expert resources in voice interfaces on their campus.
Amazon hit the pool at universities it is working on this from four last year, with the 1
" Voice is the most natural, practical interface and we think it can change the way people interact with technology. To achieve this reality, we need to solve many difficult conversational AI challenges, ranging from automatic speech recognition to natural language to text-to-speech. We must also help entrepreneurs to build voice interfaces in their technologies. "
To do this, the company obviously needs to catch as many top engineers and researchers to work in Amazon on these issues. At the same time, there has also been an emphasis on making it easier and more accessible to people outside of Amazon to engage on its own, with the work of the conversational AI.
"Therefore, we launched Alexa Skills Kit (ASK) and Alexa Voice Services (AVS) and awarded $ 200 million to promising launches that innovate with voice through the Alexa fund," said the company.
"As we engage developers to build with Alexa, it's important for us to support academic communities that continue to cope with the hardest of challenges that can promote speech technology. Therefore, we presented Alexa Fund Fellowship as a way to support researchers at top universities focusing on spoken language and language technology. "
Other technological giants, it should be noted, pursue a version of the same. Google, for example, created a Ph.D. Fellowship program almost 10 years ago, supporting the faculty, researchers and entrepreneurs across different disciplines.
A TechCrunch report, while notes there are already several projects en route as part of Amazon's University Partnership. It is Alexa Graduate Jessica van Brummelen, to begin with who is "exploring ways to make conversational AI interface easier to create and learn at MIT. Alexa Innovation Employer Andrew Singer, Dean for innovation and entrepreneurship at Engineering College at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, teaches an audio and signal processing course that uses Alexa Voice Services development kits. And Alexa Graduate James Thorne is studying new methods of using AI to confirm the accuracy of information using follow-up questions in Cambridge. "