Amazon is turning Alexa into a hands-free ChatGPT right before our eyes

The popular virtual assistant is getting an AI-powered makeover and will roll out to Fire TV and other Amazon products and services.
Written by Maria Diaz, Staff Writer
Echo Show 8
Maria Diaz/ZDNET

During its Devices and Services event last week, Amazon announced plans to incorporate generative AI into its Alexa digital assistant.

Alexa is arguably the most popular virtual assistant. Still, like Siri, it uses natural language processing (NLP), a branch of AI that helps systems understand and naturally respond to human speech. However, these assistants are limited and trained to respond to patterns with pre-determined scripts or replies that need to be processed. That is, until now.

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Currently, Alexa can recite a bedtime story for your kids. With the addition of generative AI, Alexa would be able to produce unique stories each time, complete with your kids' names for the characters and genres.

Essentially, generative AI would make Alexa smarter. This also means that Alexa would be able to answer open-ended questions without resorting to an internet search or an "Alexa answers contributor".

It appears these updates will roll out to all services that use Alexa -- at a minimum, they will be included in the Fire TV experience, which already includes the voice assistant.

Amazon announced a new "Alexa let's chat" generative AI feature, which will be available for customers to preview on all available Echo devices. When users say "Alexa, let's chat" they'll experience more natural and fluid interactions with Alexa thanks to generative AI. 

During the event, Amazon announced that customers will be able to use their Fire TV streaming devices and smart TVs to ask Alexa open-ended questions and get better content recommendations based not only on what they've watched but on previous interactions.

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According to Amazon, Fire TV users will be able to ask Alexa questions like "show me action movies with car chases" or "animated movies that are free to me." These generative AI updates will roll out later this year.

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