Alexa Will Soon Find its Way Inside all Devices Out There

By Bill Toulas / November 26, 2019

Amazon’s AI-backed voice assistant will soon be able to run inside devices that are considered severely underpowered, so given enough time, it will eventually be everywhere around us. Amazon has announced that its IoT services, which include Alexa, will now rely more on AWS (Amazon Web Services) infrastructure resources, bringing the minimum requirements down to 1 MB of RAM and an ARM Cortex-M processor. Previously, the minimum requirements were 100 MB of RAM and an ARM Cortex-A processor. While this isn’t exactly powerful either, the new requirements open the way to virtually any device out there.

So, why has Amazon decided to offload the vast majority of Alexa’s functionality to the cloud? Their gain will be to capture large chunks of an emerging market, as Alexa will be easy to implement in small and inexpensive items. According to Amazon’s estimations, this change will reduce the cost of hardware manufacturers by 50%, so Alexa is suddenly becoming the most attractive choice against the competition. Yes, Amazon will have to absorb this burden on their own cloud services, but they can surely do that, and it makes perfect business sense anyway. The only thing that the hardware of the host device will be called to do from now on is to detect the wake-up word.

All this will make it possible for things like light bulbs to accept your commands, even though they won't be “smart” by definition. Imagine a whole host of new home devices that will be able to receive your commands without having to change much on the inside. Amazon’s Dirk Didascalou calls this “ambient intelligence via Alexa”, and the concept is that the user will no longer care about where the hub is or what its form is. You just speak to your environment and Alexa will receive your commands.

As much as this may sound awesome to some, it is also very frightening for others. Sure, people will be the masters of their homes, but what happens outside these? Accepting the privacy drawbacks of having Alexa listening to what you say in your own house is one thing, but having Amazon eavesdrop us anywhere in the world is definitely a problematic assumption. Remember, we’re talking about the company that promotes their network of Ring devices as a mass surveillance machine that can retrieve video footage from anywhere across the United States. If they could hear everything, and hold it right on their own cloud systems, what would the consequences be?

Would you be comfortable in a world where Alexa is everywhere and listening at all times? Let us know where you stand in the comments down below, or on our socials, on Facebook and Twitter.

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