Teaching Alexa your language
Imagine this: Scene: At home Characters: YOU, a language enthusiast, particularly in love with your mother tongue; ALEXA, a virtual assistant, also the brain behind AMAZON ECHO smart speakers. CLEO SKILL (behind-the-scenes performer), a machine learning skill, created by a team of linguists and data scientists at Amazon with a passion for languages and dialects, to help Alexa learn new languages
(Echo is sitting quietly on your table, as you walk into the room)
You: (enthusiastically) Alexa, open Cleo (pronouncing it: ‘KLEE-oh’).
Alexa: Welcome back! Would you like to continue teaching me Hindi?
You: (with a smile in your voice) Yes
Alexa: OK, think of a city where they speak Hindi. Ask me for the weather there.
You: (hotting up to the game) Delhi mein Mausam kaisa hai?
Alexa: Ask me for the time.
You: Kitna baj raha hai?
Alexa: Think of your favorite Hindi song. Ask me to play it.
You: (loving the experience) Kala chashma sunaoo.
Alexa: Think of an actor. Ask me when s/he were born.
You: (with great relish) Amitabh Bachchan ka janm kab hua tha?
Alexa: Think of a store where you shop. Ask me when it opens.
You: (with growing enthusiasm) Mantri Mall kitne baje khulta hai?
Alexa: Thanks! Would you like to do another round?
You: (ecstatic) Yes!
(And so goes on your language game with Alexa each day, till she picks up enough from you and similar users teaching her the same language till she gradually learns to respond in your mother tongue – one of the greatest comforts in your modern, rootless life).
Bringing up Alexa with Cleo Skill
Alexa is getting smarter every day as she picks up new languages and dialects from users around the world. She already speaks in five variants of English (US, UK, Canada, India and Australia), German, as well as Japanese. It is now time for her to learn the rich basket of languages that have flourished in the Indian subcontinent for centuries.
Using the Cleo Skill developed by Amazon, customers in India can now help Alexa learn Hindi, Tamil, Marathi, Kannada, Bangla, Telugu, Gujarati, and many more regional and local languages and their dialects. Just by responding to Alexa’s English prompts in your chosen language, you can help her learn the language accurately, with social and cultural references. The more you interact with Alexa in your local tongue, the more it will help her to recognize your speech and natural language pattern.
You can enable Cleo within the “Skills” section of your Alexa app or simply also ask your Echo or Alexa-enabled devices to enable Cleo. To teach her Hindi, simply open Cleo, and follow her prompts. You can also teach her your local dialect or any other Indian tongue. To close Cleo during a teaching session, just say, “Alexa, stop.”
Alexa’s Crowdsourced Skills
The process of creating new languages for Alexa benefits from advances in data availability, computing power, and a subset of artificial intelligence called machine learning, in which systems improve organically as they incorporate more data. Cleo’s availability in India will help improve Alexa’s language model. Built by a team of linguists and data scientists, Cleo has already helped improve Alexa’s understanding of languages such as French.