Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos told one of the first Alexa prototypes to “shoot himself in the head” when testing the device at his home in Seattle, a new book has revealed.
Bezos tested a first Alexa-powered device at his home in Seattle in 2013 – something engineers remembered, causing them to fear the product was “doomed.”
Engineers who worked on the project, called Doppler, heard Bezos’ frustration and thought the project would be scrapped, according to Amazon Unbound: Jeff Bezos and Brad Stone’s Invention of a Global Empire.
“Pitted with frustration at his lack of understanding, he told Alexa to go ‘shoot herself in the head,’” Stone wrote in his book, which was released Tuesday.
An engineer told Stone, “We all thought that might be the end of the project, or at least the end of a few of us at Amazon. “
Amazon Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos introduces the company’s first smartphone, the Fire Phone, on June 18, 2014 in Seattle, Washington
The book also revealed the name of the vocal artist behind Alexa, a Boulder-based singer and actress named Nina Rolle.
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Amazon director Neil Ackerman, a beta tester for the product in early 2013, said the product “would hardly ever give me the right answer.”
“The music that came out of it was inconsistent and certainly not that of family favorites,” he said.
Parag Gard, engineer for Fire TV, said he thought the product was “doomed” and “didn’t work for the shit and I didn’t miss the thing when it was gone,” according to the delivered. .
The book also revealed the name of the vocal artist behind Alexa, a Boulder-based singer and voice actress named Nina Rolle, as well as a possible wake-up call or name for the product: Samantha, after the character. from the Bewitched TV show.
Bezos eventually suggested the name Alexa – which the book called “an homage to the ancient library of Alexandria” – and the company was able to get the product to work before the first version of the device was released in 2014.
The book also provides a backstory for the evolution of Project D, Amazon Echo and its voice assistant Alexa, which was born out of a “flurry of brainstorming sessions” with engineers from Lab126, a subsidiary of Amazon Valley for research and development.
The Kindle and Kindle Fire tablets were known internally as Project A – while Project B was the failure of the Amazon Fire Phone. Project C, called “Shimmer,” was never launched but was a device “designed to project hologram-shaped displays onto a table or ceiling,” according to the book.
The revelations were made in a new book
Amazon chief executive Greg Hart told the author that he and Bezos discussed Google’s voice search capability at a Seattle hamburger restaurant in 2010, noting that Android technology was “finally getting good. for dictation and research ”.
Bezos at the time was extremely interested in growing Amazon’s cloud business – which prompted senior vice president Steve Kessel in 2011 to suggest for the first time to create “a $ 20 device with his brain.” in the cloud which is completely controlled by your voice ”.
When development for a voice-activated cloud computer began, Bezos wanted “unrealistic” to release the product within six months to a year. At the time of the formation of the Doppler team, Apple introduced Siri – sending Amazon frantically trying to acquire speech development startups.
Amazon then bought the companies Ivona, Yap and Evi for a project that was “micromanaged by Bezos himself” when the device initially struggled to get started.
Business Insider reported that in the span of five years, the company has sold over 100 million devices with Alexa built in and noted that device usage “has skyrocketed during the pandemic” with people using the product to schedule vaccines.