Meet Alexa

Amazon has shaken the world of tech, again. In December last year, it launched Amazon Echo. Is it just a loudspeaker? No. It’s the avatar (as in embodiment) of Alexa, an AI powered assistant that can crack the best jokes and control your lights. But wait, there’s also Siri! There’s Cortana! There’s also the anonymous Google voice assistant! Why is Alexa different? Well, for starters, because at the time of writing (June 2016), over 3 million Amazon Echo devices have been sold in the US. But the true beauty is that Amazon has released the Alexa Skills Development Kit (ASK) as well as a wealth of training resources (on Udemy; on Big Nerd Ranch) which makes Alexa Voice Services, the AI part of all this, available to all kind of use cases. In other words: Amazon wants developers around the world to teach Alexa stuff. To teach her skills. I, a classic T-shaped professional who has done it all and has become a rusty developer in the process, have managed to teach Alexa to query people’s knowledge about my hometown, and I am also helping Alexa become a Wine Expert. Here, you will read how I’m doing, what puzzles me, how Amazon is building up the ecosystem as we, the first 1000 developers, crack on with the platform, and what I think about it all.

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