Machine Learning Explained With Star Wars
Amit Juneja

In my experience(Developed an app for it a year ago). Amazon Alexa is speech to text translation. Then simple grammar parsing. It is not AI and machine learning the way we believe it is.

The machine learning or AI aspect of alexa is an illusion created by the voice interface aspect of it. Its very “human” and very personal and is Alexa’s most mature and well developed feature. (apart from a stellar cloud infrastructure)

Technically speaking. Its only a public database of services that can be queried by any Alexa device by voice. An independent developer loads their app into this database and Alexa gets “smarter”(more capabilities). What we say, routes Alexa to either one of these services and then initiates a very scripted dialogue.

Developing an App for it has the developer rephrasing queries in every conceivable way. 
“Alexa, I want steak {well done}”
“Alexa, I want steak {medium well}”
“Alexa, get me a {medium well} steak.”
…. (Goes on for possible a few hundred permutations detailing how a user can ask for steak)

So the natural language processing capabilities are still a bit limited. 
Its still pretty cool tech that has audio processing and text to speech down and a growing app eco-system. But its not AI and machine learning in the sense that Medium bloggers seem to be promoting it.

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