How I let Amazon’s Alexa do the presentations

In Al Jazeera, we have a weekly thing called Karak Chats, where a member of the team talks about something, subjects can vary from “how to analyze data”, “how to use Slack for breaking news”, or sometimes to demo a new project.

I had the pleasure to be the first Karak Chatter with Omran Abazid, and wanted to talk about Al Jazeera’s Facebook bot that we are planning to release in the coming couple of days, but noticed that some people especially those who are not techie don’t know what exactly a bot is and what it can do, so I wanted to make a bot that explains what a bot is.
A couple of days before the talk, Haddad came from SRCCON with an Amazon Echo, so I thought, why not to teach Alexa how to describe a bot to people, in a conversational manner, I ask, she answers, I make a joke, she laughs.

So I spent good couple of hours on a Friday night learning how Alexa works and how to teach her skills, how to start the conversation, what are the intents and utterances, so along the way while learning I built couple of simple skills, one of them was teaching Alexa how to greet someone when they walk into office, another one was to say how many concurrent users we have on the website on a given minute when I ask for that, and a currency converter so I can learn how custom slots in intents work.

Back to our bot story of letting Alexa do the presentation where I can only steer the discussion with my questions, I wrote down the conversation I want to have in a normal case with the questions that people might ask and the information that is needed to be delivered and built it.

Here is a part of the presentation

That got me thinking, next time I might try to connect a Raspberry Pi and let it trigger presenting a slide on a screen/webpage whenever Alexa reaches a specific point in the discussion.

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