Indian brain behind Amazon Alexa? This Jharkhand techie is making Indian proud

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Published: July 23, 2018 9:42:46 PM

Amazon Alexa can be touted as the next big thing in the realm of artificial intelligence. The concept has become quite popular in no time and has made life easier in households.

Amazon Alexa can be touted as the next big thing in the realm of artificial intelligence.

Amazon Alexa can be touted as the next big thing in the realm of artificial intelligence. The concept has become quite popular in no time and has made life easier in households. But who is the creator of Alexa? Although Alexa very humbly says that she has been created by Amazon, but the phenomenon has a big Indian connection. The brain behind the artificial intelligence is Rohit Prasad. Prasad hails from Ranchi, Jharkhand and currently works as Vice President and head Scientist of Alexa Artificial Intelligence at Amazon.

He completed his schooling from DAV Public School, Ranchi, following which he studied engineering from Birla Institute of Technology (BITS), Mersa. Interestingly, Prasad had an offer from IIT Roorkee too but he chose BITS as it was closer to his home.

Apart from being the creator of Alexa, there is another feather to his cap. He was ranked 15 on the Recode’s list of 100 people in technology, business and media who mattered in 2017.

The Indian-born man had joined Raytheon BBN Technologies in July 1999 as a staff scientist. He rose to the position of Deputy Manager and Senior Director of Speech, Language and Multimedia Business Unit in BBN Technologies, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He joined Amazon in 2013. He worked as the Director of Machine Learning for three-years after which he was given the position of Vice President and Head Scientist of Alexa Artificial Intelligence in 2016. His inspiration of Alexa comes from the 1960s sci-fi cult Star Trek.

“The journey has been exciting. If you look at five years back, talking to a device from a distance, in the midst of a lot of noise, was just science fiction. We grew up in the Star Trek era, that was the inspiration for us,” he said in an interview with Times Of India. Captain Kirk and the crew giving voice commands, like “Give me warp speed,” instead of pressing buttons or navigating a menu.

Alexa was named after the ancient library of Alexandria and is Amazon’s voice-control system. It lets a person speak his/her question on Echo smart speaker and then responds accordingly. For example, if you ask ‘Alexa what is the capital of Australia’ the artificial intelligence will answer ‘Canberra’. However, this is just out of a million questions that Alexa is able to answer.

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