Alexa Learns to Talk Like a Human With Whispers, Pauses, and Emotion

Alexa Learns to Talk Like a Human With Whispers, Pauses, and Emotion

Published By: TechCrunch/MSN, 4/29/2017

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Summary

Amazon is furthering the humanization of its virtual assistant Alexa by equipping it with more emotion functionality. Developers can use a markup language calledĀ Speech Synthesis Markup Language (SSML) that allows for the coding of Alexa’s intonation, emphasis, and region-specific responses. This opens up new possibilities for app companies and how their virtual assistants are used in the world.

Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level of Article: 9.5

Extended Discussion Questions

  • What would you find beneficial about having a “virtual assistant” like Alexa?
  • Could there be any downsides to having a virtual assistant?
    • Could there be downsides to having your voice commands relayed to a cloud service for processing?
    • Would having a virtual assistant make you lazy? Why or why not?
  • How might sounding more human help virtual assistants to have more impact in the world? What new purposes could they be used for?
  • What issues could arise with humanizing virtual assistants?
    • Should virtual assistants be regulated so they cannot become too human-like? Why or why not?

Relating This Story to the CSP Curriculum Framework

Global Impact Learning Objectives:

  • LO 7.1.1 Explain how computing innovations affect communication, interaction, and cognition.
  • LO 7.3.1 Analyze the beneficial and harmful effects of computing.

Global Impact Essential Knowledge:

  • EK 7.1.1J Sensor networks facilitate new ways of interacting with the environment and with physical systems.
  • EK 7.3.1G Privacy and security concerns arise in the development and use of computational systems and artifacts.
  • EK 7.3.1J Technology enables the collection, use, and exploitation of information about, by, and for individuals, groups, and institutions.

Banner Image:Network Visualization – Violet – Offset Crop“, derivative work by ICSI. New license: CC BY-SA 4.0. Based on “Social Network Analysis Visualization” by Martin Grandjean. Original license: CC BY-SA 3.0.

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