Amazon just threw open the doors to a formerly invite-only program that allows users to answer Alexa queries that the digital assistant doesn’t yet know.
The Alexa Answers program, which launched as a beta last year, lets Amazon customers pick questions for which Alexa is coming up empty, such as “What is the state snack of Texas?” (What is it indeed?)
Once you’ve picked a question, you can simply type up your answer and submit it.
The crowdsourced response could then pop up as a response to an Alexa question with an “according to an Amazon customer” disclaimer, as Fast Company reports.
So, how exactly is Amazon planning to keep Alexa Answers from turning into a toxic trollfest?
For starters, according to Fast Company, filters will screen out “obvious profanity” as well as anything with a troll-attracting “political angle,” while (in “some cases”) algorithms and humans could offer editorial oversight.
Finally, a Reddit-style upvote or downvote will act as the last line of defense against “low-quality” answers. Too many downvotes, and Amazon will offer up fewer of your answers to Alexa, the Fast Company story says.
On the flipside, Amazon says it will encourage helpful users by giving them points and achievements based on such factors as how many answers they submit, their overall answer rating, and the number of times Alexa shares their answers.
While it makes sense that Amazon would turn to crowdsourcing when it comes to shoring up Alexa’s knowledge, allowing anyone and everyone to submit answers to Alexa questions seems, well, problematic. It’ll be interesting to see whether Amazon’s planned safeguards will keep would-be Alexa trolls at bay.
Want to answer some Alexa questions for yourself? Just visit the Alexa Answers sign-in page to get started.
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