Monday, April 30, 2018

Testing AI capabilities of Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa

Alexa (l) and Google Assistant (r), online AI giants ..
We all are aware that Artificial Intelligence will be influencing our lives in many unthought of ways in the near future. Are we prepared for that major transition ?

The first step to popularise AI applications was the introduction of Apple Siri in IoS in 2010 followed by Alexa by Amazon, the retail online giant almost three years back in 2014 and lately, Google Home by Google, the online search giant in 2016,the last two working on Android OS. Alexa already was senior by about three years when Google got into the AI domain.

A unique experiment was planned to check the AI capabilities of Google and Amazon, after neutralising for accent anomalies. I verbally asked both Alexa and Google Assistant the following simple questionsm, at 6 AM, 30 April 2018 on Airtel 10 Mbps home wi-fi for Alexa and Jio 4G network for Google Assistant.
1. Who is Tutan Khamun ? (both gave correct responses)
2. Where is Taj Mahal located ? (both gave correct responses)
3. Who is the President of the United States ? (both gave correct responses)
4. Florida is on which coast of US ? (only Google gave correct response)
5. In which country is Mt. Everest located ? (Only Alexa gave correct response)
6. In which country is Rupiah, the currency ? (only Google gave correct response)
7. Who is the President of China ? (both gave correct responses)
8. Which is the capital of South Africa ? (both gave correct responses)
9. Who were the Beatles ? (both gave correct responses)
10. What is the latitude of the South Pole ? (only Alexa gave correct response)
Even though Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa were asked the same questions on history, buildings, international politics, geography, economic news and music, the intention of my controlled experiment was to check the AI capabilities of both of these online global leaders in giving correct answers. All questions had clear answers, so there was no ambiguity in the answers.

My observations and inferences from this controlled mini-experiment are as follows :-

1. Google referred to it's own updated and vast information database while Alexa was referring to the Wikipedia (frequently updated and referred public encyclopedia)
2. On 3 occasions, Google Assistant AI engine gave richer answers with additional information than Alexa AI engine.

3. Both the AI engines have the same basic information retrieval capabilities, the same time approximately one second to retrieve the information, ie. understand the question, process it to get the answer and speak out.

4. Google Assistant gave oral and printed output on screen unlike Alexa which only gave oral output.

5. A mismatch was noticed in Google Assistant where an anomaly occurred for question #10 between what Google Assistant printed on screen and what it spoke.

6. Google Assistant gave all relevant and rich information while Alexa was very precise and short.

Finally, the decision is - both are equally good and score 8/10 (eight out of ten).

Having a seniority of almost three years, this is a wake up call to Amazon as to where it has slipped to allow Google to catch up with it presently. (this experiment does not look at the external hardware networking (IoT capabilities) of Amazon, an area in which Amazon Alexa clearly has a great lead over other competitors)

Hope this information helps both companies to improve their AI engines.

Is AI diminishing some faculties of our brain? It definitely is, but at the same time it is opening some other unexplored and less understood faculties of the brain too for us to explore and exploit for the greater common good of the planet and all living and non-living beings on it.

The purpose of the article is to create an awareness of AI apps around us and to get us prepared for the AI revolution that is staring at us already..


PS : The same question were asked to Alexa and Google Home almost a month later and it was found that Alexa did show a slight improvement in the quality of the answers with still only 8/10 correct answers, while Google Home got all the ten questions correct with very rich explanations to the answers. This was an indication to the extent which Google Home AI engine was taking the lead over Amazon in establishing itself in the market.


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